top of page
  • Writer's pictureCalcas

Warlords of Draenor Turns 9

Perhaps the most hated expansion in the history of World of Warcraft (before Shadowlands came along) turns 9 today.

The shame of it is that it didn't have to be this way. Warlords of Draenor (WoD) started rough, had some really great moments, and then was left to die as Blizzard pivoted to preparing the modern WoW golden child, Legion. (More on this in a later post.)

But the idea was good. Who doesn't like the idea of an alternative timeline? The zones were beautiful. I still think Frostfire Ridge is one of the best atmospheres in all of WoW. The lore was there - Thrall meets his parents.

And then in Spires of Arak we spent so much time with the arakkoa (and the strange archeology chests they hid in trees!), which triggered all of the childhood trauma of watching Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal.

I still get chills down my spine when I hear Chamberlain's "Mmmmm."

I don't want to spend this blog post re-litigating WoD. It was objectively a failure by its end, lost in the seemingly inescapable and yet surprisingly empty Tanaan Jungle.

I don't have the first-hand experience to objectively talk about this period of WoW because it was the first time I unsubbed for longer than a month. Osney (my undead priest I was maining then) never set foot in the Tanaan Jungle.

Instead, I want to tell yinz a story about WoD launch, three old college roommates planning a long weekend of marathon leveling, and entirely too much beer consumed.

The results were as follows, but the character names have been maintained to shame those guilty.

Cue the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia theme.

"The Gang Goes to Draenor"

Nightshadez (Graysquirrel's goblin shaman), Mokoshkana (the same tauren druid our friend had from the very beginning), and Osney prepared to venture through the portal to alternative timeline Outland to face the storied Iron Horde only to be thwarted... by never-ending queues.

The launch of WoD was an unmitigated disaster. A dumpster fire. A glimpse of our own world to come.

This failure, if memory serves, is the only time in its storied history that Blizzard has ever offered free game time as a result.

Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on Blizzard's servers paralyzed the game at its launch. We sat in queue for hours only to get in and to be promptly booted again with the next round of attacks.

So, like any rational adults, we went ham on the forums.

But first, allow me to fill in some of the details about this whole launch party idea for an online MMORPG that in no way required the three of us to be in the same room to play together.

Maybe we were trying to recreate the feeling of LAN parties for Halo when we would literally bring along an Xbox and television to someone's house.

Maybe we were just looking for an excuse to relive our college years of coming home from the bar and logging into WoW only to get bogged down in Barrens chat, debating the finer points of Dyson vaccuums or sharing Chuck Norris jokes ad nauseam.

I miss Barrens chat more than I'd like to admit. Modern-day trade chat has nothing on the fever dream that was Barrens chat.

I left Pittsburgh Wednesday, 12 November, headed to the homeland of Altoona to pick up Moko before we would make the trek across the state on the wretched PA Turnpike to arrive in our final destination, Philadelphia, where we would venture into the new expansion together in virtual and physical realities.

Nightshadez had prepped an impressive battle station for the three of us using some folding tables for Moko and I that were set up in the same area of his apartment as his desk.

He had also ordered a lot of beer for the ocassion. Craft beer. High ABV beer.

Being of the age to have watched Chappelle's Show as it was originally airing, I'm sure we yelled at each other "This is a celebration, bitch!" a la "Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories: Rick James" more than a few times. If you've never seen this sketch, I'll include it here. (CW: drugs, alcohol, language, violence, NSFW, etc.)

Chappelle's Show was a helluva ride, but back to WoW.

We were waiting for the 3am EST launch time. I know we were drinking. We might have taken a nap at some point? But by the time 3am rolled around and we were not able to play the game for which we had been hyping ourselves up all evening and even the weeks leading up to this reunion, we were none too pleased.

I went directly to the forums and began shitposting. These were the days before the "small indie company" line. No, I don't remember what I said, but after the moderators had locked 3 or 4 topics I started, they eventually escalated their punishment to banning me from the forums for a week.

Censorship at its finest or efforts to better humanity? You be the judge.

After about an hour of frustratedly waiting, we eventually were able to log in. We built our garrisons, quested through Frostfire Ridge, Gorgrond, Talador, Spires of Arak, and eventually Nagrand. The three of us didn't go to sleep until we hit 100, the new level cap.

Mission accomplished.

Once we finally slept and woke up again, it was Thursday afternoon. And then the rest of the weekend we were just fully immersed in dungeons and battlegrounds.

I definitely spent a good deal of time fishing, too. Fishing in lava right outside of your garrison in Frostfire Ridge was great.

We continued to play WoD after this weekend, but this is my most vivid memory of that expansion. It was the last time the three of us rode to battle together while sitting in the same room.

I know this sort of thing might seem weird to a lot of folks (particularly post-COVID), but there is something nice about playing games together this way. For those of us who grew up in the late 80s and 90s, the only way we could play video games for the longest time was by going to a friend's house or having friends over. I have loved being able to play games with friends near and far in the age of online gaming, but from time to time I miss the greater interpersonal interaction. Maybe that's why I love Blizzcon so much.

WoD, despite its flaws, holds a special place in my heart for this reason. Enjoy your time with your friends, whether in person or online. These moments are the ones that matter more than whether we actually got to face Grommash Hellscream or whatever else we supposedly lost in the cut bait end of WoD.

Happy birthday, WoD. Maybe in four years' time we'll have just learned about Warlords of Draenor Classic at Blizzcon 2027, and maybe - just maybe - we'll get all of that content lost to Legion.

And a shout out to the guys over at Do Not Relent podcast because it's their 9 year WoW-iversary as WoD babies. Give their podcast a listen. It's great!

Thank you for reading. For Azeroth!

23 views0 comments


bottom of page