Times Change: Garrosh & the Warlords cinematic

The Warlords of Draenor cinematic went live yesterday. This post has spoilers.
If you haven't seen it yet, here's a link, go watch. It's only 5 minutes long.

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The Warlords trailer was released yesterday, and people have lots of thoughts. There's probably going to be many blog posts soon addressing how the focus was entirely on orcs, how there were no draenei, how there were no female orcs, the heavy masculinity, and how the lore significance was likely lost on the many players that didn't play the older games.

These are valid points, and you should read them! But this is not one of those posts.

No, this post is about one thing and one thing only: Garrosh. While he's present in a good portion of the cinematic, he doesn't play a major role (one could argue that his torch-waving signalling was unnecessary, since the siege machines were already in action), and he only has one line of dialogue, which consists of only two words.

But those two words. Man.

Gul'dan: This...was not our destiny!
Garrosh: Times change.

Okay. Let's talk about this line. On the surface, it's a clever retort. It's a snappy one-liner to Gul'dan's protests, and it has the meta benefit of alluding to the fact that Garrosh has gone back in time to accomplish his goals. It's a good line.

But put that aside for a moment. Ignore the scene, who he's addressing, what's going on around them. Instead, just look at Garrosh's face when he says his line. And listen to HOW he says it.

Times change.

Me? I hear a distinct heaviness in his voice. A weight. A weariness. A clear absence of the anger, arrogance and brashness that has for years utterly defined who Garrosh Hellscream is.

Think back to oh, every time we've heard Garrosh speak, whether it's to Thrall, Varian, Taran Zhu, or to players in his own faction. He snarls, he sneers, he spits his words like cannon blasts. For him, the very act of talking is a heavily emphasized, violent act. That's who Garrosh IS. Go watch the 5.4 trailer again if you want to compare.

But his words in the cinematic, these two little words...they don't feel this way. This is a different Garrosh. He sounds almost apologetic.

This drastic change in attitude isn't just the voice acting, either - it's written all over his face. Look at the attitude difference between this Garrosh...

...and this one.

There's no fury, twisting and contorting his features. No bloodlust or hatred. Nor is it the smirking expression of someone who just delivered a devastating verbal shot. No, that is the face of someone who is at that very moment, coming to a difficult, perhaps painful, realization.

Remember, until recently it was Garrosh, not Gul'dan, shouting about his "glorious destiny." And when Garrosh realizes he has lost, that he has been denied the fate he so adamantly believes he deserves, it's almost more than he can bear.

(sound credits: Wowhead!)

Fast forward to Garrosh in the cinematic, standing over Gul'dan. Why is Garrosh not angrier? Why doesn't he take out the years of frustration and rage he, like most orcs, now feel towards this traitor to their proud race? Why does he not spit in Gul'dan's face, break his spindly neck, mock his suffering?

Well, Guldan's faith in the destiny promised him has just been shattered. And hearing the pain and denial in the other orc's voice as those dreams and hopes slip away...what must be running through Garrosh's mind at that moment? He knows Gul'dan is a monster. But Garrosh also knows what it's like, to have the world in the palm of your hand, so close you can taste it, only to have it stolen cruelly away at the last second.

Garrosh was in those exact same shoes not so long ago. He knows this pain all too well.

Now, maybe Garrosh has comes to terms with himself, with the unexpected directions his life has taken him. After all, he's no longer the proud, celebrated leader of the Warsong Offensive. He is no longer Warchief of the Horde, leader of the mightiest army on Azeroth. Now, he's an outlaw. A renegade. Hunted and despised by everyone he's ever known. His grand, ambitious plans of conquest, of victory...now all gone, scattered to the winds.

Gul'dan believed he was destined for something greater. Well, so did Garrosh. But guess what?

Times change.

Maybe he's come to realize that the world might not actually revolve around him...that his purpose, his meaning in life, is what he is doing now. Not to be the one leading the ferocious charge into battle, not to the one defying the rest of the world and daring them to come rip him down off his throne, but instead, helping his father be the one to attain such glories.

To wait behind, to signal the catapults. To retrieve his leader's weapon. To eschew accolades and recognition. To follow, not lead.

Who is Garrosh really addressing in the cinematic?


Or himself?

I said there was a weight in Garrosh's words, and there is. But there's more. A sense of resignation. Of defeat. Of mourning, an unspoken, quiet sadness at what could have been, and at what he knows he has lost.

But there is also something else - acceptance.

The timbre in his voice. The expression on his face.

For the first time, Garrosh seems - dare I say it? - content.

Look at the moment when he retrieves Gorehowl from Mannoroth's corpse.

Garrosh pauses, considering it. He knows this weapon. He's wielded it countless times. He knows its weight, the feel of how it sings in battle, the adrenaline rush of sending it cleaving through his foes. It's not just an axe, it's an extension of his very being, his warrior's spirit. His legacy.

He looks at it. Remembering.

And then he lets it go.

Minipost: Watch the sky burn

I've taken thousands of screenshots since I started playing WoW six years ago. And the one above, of Westfall in flames during the conclusion the zone's Post-Shattering questline, remains one of my favorites.

Its composition is nice, good vibrant colors, rule-of-thirds and all that. But I think what I like most about it is the in-game and in-character story behind it.

You see, at the end of the zone, Vanessa Van Cleef reveals herself to be the mastermind and driving force behind all the uprisings and rebellions that you've been investigating. And in a really cool moment, she and her lieutenants subdue Marshal Gryan Stoutmantle, Horatio Laine and the other Alliance / Westfall Brigade soldiers, before proceeding to raze Sentinel Hill to the ground. Meanwhile, Stoutmantle desperately yells at you to hurry and travel to Stormwind and warn them that the Defias Brotherhood has risen once again.

Well, I did nothing of the sort. I stood around, redid the quest a few times for more screenshots, and just relaxed, enjoying the scene.

Why? Because the Alliance deserved it. Stoutmantle, Laine, Varian, they brought this entirely upon themselves. Screw you guys, I'm done, YOU'RE the ones at fault here, I quit. Time to sit back and watch the sky burn.

Post-Northrend Westfall is in sorry shape following the war against the Lich King. The farmlands are barren and full of homeless refugees, people are starving and reduced to eating dirt, and morale (and faith in the government) is at an all-time low.

And what's the response from Varian? How does the King of Stormwind react, hearing of the plight of his people? Well, let me first add that when you do eventually go to deliver the message to Varian, you have to run right past the city's BRAND NEW GIANT VARIAN STATUE that they constructed after Northrend. But the nation has no funds and that's why Westfall civilians have to squat in deserted homes and starve. Okay.

Statue aside, even after all this, when the ignored, unheard people of Westfall are driven to rebellion because they have no alternative, Varian...well, he ignores their issues and dismisses them as "a ruthless organization of criminals."

With treatment like that, is it really any wonder the people of Westfall rebelled? That you finally pushed them so far that they put their feet down and said "No. No, you arrogant, selfish children. You only care about your own egos, you don't listen to our concerns, and when you are FORCED to notice, you have the gall to not take responsibility?"

Hey, I guess that's cool. You already got their money, so who needs to actually LISTEN to those bums, right? May as well just ignore their reasons for being angry and place the blame right on their shoulders, not yours.

But maybe, just maybe you underestimate how hurt, upset and above all else, how tired of this crap people are. How maybe people would be willing to overlook a single offense and chalk it up to an accident or mistake. But when it keeps happening over1 and over2 and over3 and over4 and over5 and over6 and over7 and over8 again? Um, no.

(1The absence of Aggra in WoD. 2Female Draenei April Fool's joke. 3One-dimensional female lore characters. 4Lack of Hearthstone Hero equality. 5Tyrande's leader story featuring Malfurion. 6Malgrim Stormhand's "real man" line. 7Dustin Browder on hypersexualized female designs. 8Rob Pardo on diversity in Blizzard games.)

Eventually, you're going to push them away. You will lose them by offending them. By not representing them. By dismissing and refusing to acknowledge the times you screwed up, and trying to just pretend those times never happened via deafening, overwhelming silence.

Even the most loyal, dedicated supporter, who absolutely LOVES all the good things you DO do, reaches a point where they have to say to themselves "How can I continue to support these people when they clearly do not care about me?"

And I guess the answer is, you don't have to.

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Warlords is probably half a year away. And I fully admit it, I am dying - DYING - to see what happens with the lore. Come on, Blizz. Six months to put your money where Pardo's mouth is and prove that you really do want diversity in your games. There's plenty of testosterone, musclehead games out there for the dudebro crowd. Warcraft (and Blizzard's other games) could be so much better than this.

Anyway. From Draenor With Love will be unaffected, and I hope readers enjoy where our story goes, and who it involves!

This won't be the last post here, though it'll be the last one for a while. But just in case, thank you for reading. If you've ever enjoyed anything, anything at all posted on this blog, know that your enjoyment makes me incredibly happy. Thanks. :)

It's funny. Predictions have always been one of my favorite blog topics. Sure didn't see this coming, though.

New Alliance "doesn't care" about Diversity, says Grand Marshal Garithos

Image from Wowpedia.org

Recent statements from a big name in the New Alliance hierarchy has made something very clear: this is an army about "winning", not diversity.

Grand Marshal Othmar Garithos gave a speech to New Alliance troops yesterday emphasizing that as their commander, he sought "epic winning experiences" and that rather than focusing on forging future racial ties and allegiances, his army would focus on chin clefts and sweet moustaches.

As the former Knight of Lordaeron continually hammered home his emphasis on "racial purity", he specifically mentioned that under his leadership, the New Alliance would be strongly opposed to "working together" with other races such as the dwarves or blood elves.

When asked if cooperating with other races might one day lead to humans, dwarves and elves all living peacefully together, Garithos snorted and rolled his eyes.

"I wouldn't say that's really a value for me. It's not something that I'm against either, but it's just not something that I give a shit about."

Garithos argued that the human soldiers in the New Alliance grew up revering human heroes like Anduin Lothar and Thoras Trollbane, and that at the end of the day, they were all "kids at heart."

"Humans rule, right boys? Right? Right!" said Garithos with a chuckle, high-fiving his lieutenant, Kristoff.

"Anyway, these fellows, they dreamed about being a hero like Lothar, with human partners, a human army, a proud human moustache," said Garithos. "We're not trying to bring in all this other stuff, this 'socially relevant' or 'equality' nonsense, or actively trying to encourage racial diversity or do things like that. Because we don't care."

Garithos went on to note that "because most of our soldiers are lads who grew up hearing stories about human heroes," the widespread New Alliance attitude that other races were incompetent, cowards or traitors "is offensive to, I guess, some dwarves and elves."

"But what do you expect?" said the Grand Marshal. "Look at our forces on the front lines. They're all brave human boys, strong and courageous. Fighting for kin and country. Can't say the same for the elves!"

In discussing this military racial imbalance, he noted "It's not because we don't want more elves fighting, it's just what the army is. I'd take them pointy-ears to the front, I really would. But I just don't get the elf volunteers."

When reminded that Prince Kael'thas did, in fact, volunteer his blood elf troops to fight on the front lines, but was ignored and his request dismissed, the Grand Marshal closed his eyes and stuck his fingers in his ears.

"I said, I JUST DON'T GET THE VOLUNTEERS!" shouted Garithos, walking briskly away and ignoring any future questions.

"Listen, we're not running for King of Lordaeron or anything," said Kristoff. "We're here for our own satisfaction, not for the dwarves', for the elves', or for anyone else's. No one should look to our army for that."

When asked if the New Alliance didn't represent a potential way for people of all races to cooperate and accomplish great things together without being discriminated against, and that at the end of the day, it could be a way to let humans, dwarves and elves all feel empowered, Kristoff shrugged, looking bored.

"Uh-huh. Cool. Totally."

Minipost: Your skill in Cooking has increased to 3.

Alright, everybody remember this post from a few years back?

Well, since War Crimes just came out featuring both Garrosh and Anduin rather prominently, I figured it was time for a little update.

I don't think I'll ever get tired of that baby's face.

Thankfully, I'm sure we'll see him again, since we'll undoubtedly see enough out of Garrosh in Warlords for a part 3 in a year or so!

Minipost: Upgrading tier tokens for fun and...curiosity

The first time I won an Essence of the Cursed Conqueror off Garrosh back in November, I was obviously quite excited. These "wildcard" tokens could be traded in at the Shrine for any other tier token, a really cool idea. It was the Flex version, but I'm pretty sure it was the one that gave me my Holy 4-piece.

However, I also noticed something strange. The Essence was upgradable.

I didn't think anything of it at the time. I certainly didn't want to waste Valor Points upgrading it and then immediately losing those VP by turning in the token, since I was getting regular upgrades at the time and needed all the Valor I could get. So I turned it in, got my 4-piece, and moved on.

However, fast-forward five months. TTGF had killed Garrosh, our raiding had died down, and now we were basically just playing out the tail end of the expansion with challenge modes or weird self-inflicted "heroic" modes. We weren't doing full clears anymore, but I still needed normal-mode Tier Shoulders for Holy, and a normal-mode Tier Helm or Chest for Ret, so I began pugging Normal mode raid kills via oQueue. And what do you know, on a Garrosh pug I ended up with another Essence.

However, THIS time, I had Valor Points flowing out of my ears. I'd upgraded every Holy piece. I'd upgraded every Ret piece. I'd upgraded numerous off-set Ordos or Warforged pieces on the SLIGHT chance that I'd end up using them, sometime, in the future...for BOTH specs. And I'd still been hard-capped, 3000/3000 Valor, for weeks.

So of course, this time I upgraded the Essence.

Turns out it actually upgraded the token's item level, too, as visible in the actual upgrade window.

I turned it in for the Shoulders of the Cursed Conqueror token...which, huh, was also 2/2 upgraded.

And what do you get when you hand in a 2/2 tier token? Well...

So that's mildly interesting. The Valor Points you invest in upgrading a tier token aren't lost at all, they upgrade your eventual tier piece too. I'm just not entirely sure what the point is?

I suppose this would be handy if you were waiting to trade in a token just in case you got a different tier token later on...and you were Valor hard-capped and needed to spend some so future VP gains wouldn't be wasted? I guess then this would be mildly useful? That's all I can really think of, though.

Ah, the things one does when you're bored in the game and have nothing better to spend your time and Valor Points on.