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Zone Review: Thousand Needles October 10, 2011

Posted by Stormy in Leveling, Zones.
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I’ve been working on Loremaster and playing through all the newly-revamped zones in Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, and although I’ve written a bit about the relative difficulty level and the questing-on-rails philosophy of the new zones, I never really felt compelled to write about the story content in the new zones until I played through Thousand Needles the other day. Also, consider yourself warned that the following post contains spoilers.

Having lended a hand to Brackenwall Village and helped to hold off the Alliance onslaught in Dustwallow Marsh for one more day, I received new orders: head to Thousand Needles to help restore order in the face of rising water due to the Cataclysm. I packed my bags and graciously accepted the free wyvern ride, and from the moment I landed there was chaos as far as the eye could see. I quickly vanquished a few Grimtotem invaders, and having demonstrated my abilities was promptly sent to Fizzle and Pozzik’s Speedbarge to lend a hand.

I landed at the Speedbarge and approached the man in charge, a wily-looking goblin named Pozzik, for my assignment. Next to him stood an equally wily-looking gnome, and I knew from past experience that anytime you get gnomes and goblins togethere there’s going to be fireworks. He sent me downstairs to a henchman, and I was given my first task: start a barfight. I knew right then and there that post-Cataclysm Thousand Needles had one rule: check your morals at the door.

I finished up a few menial tasks–rescuing a wayward goblin trapped in a sunken portable toilet and gathering some spare parts–then was whisked off to Splithoof Heights, home of the local centaur clan. The town bore only a passing resemblance to the Splithoof Heights of my youth–a humble settlement with animal-skin huts and scattered campfires. The Cataclysm had opened a rift in the earth and revealed black gold: oil, and the Horde and the Alliance were there to bargain with the locals for access.

The goblin in charge of the expedition sent me to on a mission to steal the Alliance’s contract proposal from their chief negotiator, and I could feel myself having to swallow my sense of moral obligation even deeper. In my past I had done some contract work for the Tauren of Thunder Bluff in Stonetalon Mountains, and I distinctly remember spending weeks working tirelessly against what was then Azeroth’s Public Enemy #1, the Venture Trading Company, hell-bent on drilling, foresting and pillaging the land for every available scrap the earth had to offer. Here I was, several years later, being asked to bribe a public official for access to the region’s oil resources. As a vague sense of nausea set in, I dove into an underwater cavern and dug up what I thought would be enough fool’s gold to convince the centaur chieftain of the Horde’s good intentions. Later, having failed miserably in our attempt to fool the centaur, we did the only other thing we could think of: we hastily put up a makeshift oil derrick and began stealing the oil, all the while killing off the uncooperative centaur.

My hands shook on the flight back to the speedbarge. What had I become? I was once a noble and gentle member of the Horde, a guardian of the land and a defender of the people. I joined the war effort at Light’s Breach and was part of the expedition that killed the Lich King, a righteous effort to rid the world of an evil force, and mere months later I was killing the local people and stealing their oil. I approached Pozzik with every intention of giving him a piece of my mind, but he cut me off.

We were being invaded! He screamed at me to man a boat and help hold them off. I jumped in the nearest steamboat and first did what I thought would be the noble thing, putting out fires with the onboard firehose. Reasonably confident that the speedbarge was no longer in danger, I was asked to man a grenade launcher and sink the pirates’ rowboats. In other words, in the face of pirates brandishing nothing more than swords, I was asked to man a grenade launcher. What’s that old adage about bringing a bazooka to a knife fight? And yet here I was, a humble priest from Quel’Thalas, shooting fish in a barrel…with a grenade launcher from the deck of a steamboat in a flood-ravaged canyon a continent away from home. It couldn’t get any worse than this.

How wrong I was. Having earned Pozzik’s respect (however ill-gotten it may have been) I was whisked off one last time to Darkcloud Pinnacle, home of the Grimtotem clan of the mighty Tauren. An animal instinct rose within me as I relished every opportunity to shed the blood of the Grimtotem clan, the sworn enemy of my allies. “This is for Cairne,” I thought to myself as I overpowered Grimtotem soldiers. I was instructed by my companion to collect Grimtotem artifacts, and we condcted a ritual to summon the mythical spirit of Vengeance, the wind-serpent Arikara. I felled several Grimtotem elders, and upon hearing my next assignment my blood ran cold.

Rescue Magatha Grimtotem. Rescue…Magatha…Grimtotem. The vile, devious, murderous old crone who was the living embodiment of everything I hated in the world. The repulsive, repugnant wretch who had murdered the stoic and much-loved spirit of righteousness and noble good in the world. The contemptible old cow who, with someone else’s blade and a few drops of poison, stopped the beating heart of the Orcish Horde, Cairne Bloodhoof. I hated her with every fiber of my being. With every heartbeat my contempt for her rose, but I knew what had to be done. The Twilight’s Hammer were bent on destroying all of Azeroth, and I couldn’t let that happen.

As I undid the bonds holding her in her Twilight prison I contemplated killing her. One slip of my blade and the old crone would die a quick and painless death at my hand, and Cairne Bloodhoof would be avenged. I averted my eyes, scared of what would happen should I accidentally look her in the eye. I literally threw the Grimototem artifacts at her, my blood boiling with rage.

I turned my back and ran away as fast as I could. I needed to get away from her, from Pozzik, from everything Thousand Needles had forced me to become. I journeyed for what felt like days until I came to my refuge, the peaceful and civil magical city of Dalaran. I made a final stop to repair my gear and empty my pack before collapsing in a barstool to wash my sins away with Caraway Burnwine, and felt tremendous relief when I heard Kyunghee’s voice.

“How you doin’, mon?”

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Comments»

1. Suzanne - November 9, 2011

I really enjoyed questing through Thousand Needles. My first real character was a Tauren (leading to my affection for Cairne Bloodhoof), and I’m still concerned about what Magatha has planned. (And a little worried I might never know… or have to wait a while to find out.)


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