A Shanker’s Tale: The Horrors of Hillsbrad

hillsbrad

Welcome to the new face of the Hillsbrad Foothills. So hilly they hilled it twice. Also: full of Forsaken and Worgen, in the spillover from their battle for Silverpine Forest, and Gilneas itself. Mostly notably, the Worgen here are being helped in their battles against the horde by the Stormpike Guard. I love this – getting the PvP factions actually involved in the battle for the world is perfect, and sort of makes you wonder why the whole zone wasn’t about the conflict between the Stormpike and Frostwolf clans for control of Alterac in the first place.

That said, the Frostwolf Clan point blank refuse to take any part in the campaign, due to the methods employed by the forces of Undercity. It’s good to see that, despite Drek’thar’s age and physical frailty, he’s lost none of the spirit and conviction that made him interesting in the first place. That said, while you may not like Sylvanas’ efforts, it’s very difficult to argue with results, and in that department, the Banshee Queen certainly delivers, with only minimal help from outside.

boomThe main arc culminates in blowing up the four elements of the Stormpike’s forward base on the Fingers of Hillsbrad, which treats you to an impressive lightshow. The Alliance counterattack is stopped, and no one has any explaining to do about the Frostwolf Clan’s failure to help out. Phew!

The other main strand of the zone begins with the (well-publicised) quest Welcome to the Machine, which introduces several characters who show up throughout the zone. One of them, Orkus, helps you in your battles with the Stormpike forces. Another, Johnny Awesome is… less well treated. He is stereotypically ‘weak’ – he breaks down in tears when his horse is killed, rather than responding with steely-eyed determination – and is also mistaken for a “girl” by two of the Forsaken. Once for his looks, because there’s no such thing as an androgynous man, and the second time for his reaction to the death of his beloved horse, because no real man breaks down in tears over the loss of a valued companion. Of course, it’s played for laughs. The entire thing is ham-handed and offensive, and it really didn’t need to be included here. Or anywhere, for that matter.

Towards the end of the zone, you’re sent out to hunt Rampaging Owlbeasts. Owlbeasts? That sounds li-

moomins

Yep. A bad case of Moomins Moonkin. Having rid him of his terrifying affliction (and commented on the distinct lack of harmonica-wielding nomads in the area), you’re ushered off to the Arathi Highlands.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the Alliance and Horde conflict in Hillsbrad Foothills. I just wish it had come without the baggage.

seal

The most important level 30 ability

Illirica is now level 30, owing to a Battlegrounds binge and several dungeon runs. Notably only one of the dungeon runs had a tank. In one, a DPSer had queued to tank, in another (Stormwind Stockade), the tank left immediately after loading in. I guess you’re free to pick and choose which dungeons you do, if you get instant queues. Level 30 means a second talent, which I haven’t picked yet – I’m genuinely unsure which I want at the moment. It also means the option to unlock a second talent specialisation, which I’m going to do sooner or later. The second spec will be Subtlety, primarily to see if I prefer it in PvP to Assassination. I have no glyphs at the moment, but that will change as I can afford them. Defias Brotherhood has an, uh, “well developed economy”. Which is code for “everything is extremely expensive”. Selling cloth and spare metals will raise enough gold to buy the glyphs I want, sooner or later!

I’ve realised I didn’t actually talk about my first talent choice, which was Subterfuge. I’m confident this is one of the best talents in the game, for low level PvP at least. The ability to double Ambush people is huge, with many cloth-wearers dying instantly if either of them crits. If not, the forthcoming Envenom tends to finish them. Honestly at the moment I can’t really see the appeal to either of the other tier 1 talents. Now, with Cheap Shot unlocked as well, it’s really useful, with Assassination’s improved energy pool allowing you to put out three four-second stuns before stealth breaks. I’m looking forward to the interplay with forthcoming talent Cloak and Dagger.

Next up is the Hinterlands, though I’ll probably skip out on that early. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Forsaken are up to in the Plaguelands, these days…

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