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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

What Could Have Been: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor (Rewrite)


Today, we’ll be doing something unique. For a long while, I’ve wanted to rewrite one of my write-ups, though never have I had the adequate time to do so. Recently however, I began to write a megalist of unmade and canceled movies and video games. However, I’ve had to delay it as I recently got a puppy and he has been a handful. There was one entry that I did write that I found to be exceptional though and I didn’t want it to collect dust as I did much smaller projects in my free time. What those smaller projects are: I honestly don’t know. I want to post a mystery or two this month, but it remains to be seen on whether or not I can muster the energy (let alone find the time) to craft something of merit.


Now, before we begin, I want to make note of something. I didn’t change anything in the way of what’s been written and as such, there’s likely a few typos and references to the aforementioned megalist itself. So I do apologize on that front.


So with all of that out of the way, and without further ado: enjoy this rewrite of last year’s What Could Have Been on Warlords of Draenor.


Although this megalist is on unmade or canceled media: the fifth World of Warcraft expansion—Warlords of Draenor—may as well have never been made or have had its name changed in order to accommodate for the fact that it was next to nowhere near what had been promised. How on Earth Activision-Blizzard dodged a lawsuit for false advertising with Warlords will forever be a mystery for me. Then again, we did get to see the Warlords and we were on Draenor, so I guess I can’t argue there.


Back in March of 2019, I wrote about Warlords and went over just how much was removed, changed, or delayed. You can read the write-up here, though do note that almost all of the images are broken and I’m too lazy to fix that. This entry will be similar to that one, but without the images and while I could just commit self-plagiarism, I believe I’m above such a thing. That’s why I copied portions of previous write-ups when I did the conspiracy megalist. Anyways, let’s get into what exactly Warlords could have been had it not been gutted like a swine.


Apathy is the name of the game when it comes to Warlords of Draenor. The follow-up to the generally well-liked and story centric Mists of Pandaria, Warlords was an expansion that, by today’s standards, is the reason that I’ve become obsessed with unmade and canceled content in video games. I don’t think anything will ever come close to how much time I’ve invested into reading about this one expansion pack, though that’s likely because I beta tested Warlords from a fairly early point. I digress though, let’s get this show on the road.


To start things off: the main villains of the expansion went through a few changes. Prior to the Iron Horde being settled on, the disgraced warchief of the Horde—Garrosh “I Did Nothing Wrong in Hindsight Besides Commit Atrocious Acts of Genocide” Hellscream—was to have gone to the remnants of Draenor known as Outland and resurrected the old warchiefs. Once that idea was shot down like a spy plane during the Cold War, the idea of the Mongrel Horde was thrown around. This would have included Garrosh creating an army with the likes of Gnolls, Kobolds, and Murlocs; a sort of misfit army that would have served a man whose body proportions would make Rob Leifeld blush. As a side note: I refuse to let images become broken once more, so all images will be hyperlinked.


Anyways: the idea of the Mongrel Horde was naturally shot down too, leaving the ideas department of a company with a game that rakes in over a billion dollars annually 0 for 2. The third idea that I was able to find was something called the “Dark Horde”. I’ve never been able to find information on this, but it likely would have included Garrosh “14 Orcish Words” Hellscream teaming up with the Old Gods and Void Lords (the two greatest evils in the Warcraft universe) to conquer Azeroth. While the idea may not have been used, the Old God N’Zoth was later seen in Battle For Azeroth before being laser beamed in the face in a conclusion so anticlimactic, you’d think J.J. Abrams wrote the plot.


Ultimately, the Iron Horde—a heavily industrialized version of the Orcish Horde—was chosen. To now steal from my original write-up: players found themselves going back in time thirty-five years and into an alternate universe. Having escaped custody, Garrosh flees to this alternate universe and stops the Orcs in that timeline from drinking the blood of the pit lord Mannoroth, and rallies them to invade the timeline he's from with technology made by Siegecrafter Blackfuse—who was a boss in the final raid of Mists of Pandaria. To add to that excerpt from the original write-up: Blackfuse actually hinted at Warlords during his fight with the following quote:


Don’t think you’ve won. My legacy will live on.


This habit of hinting at future expansions continued with Cordana Felsong in Warlords of Draenor and Il’gynoth in both Legion and Battle For Azeroth; the latter of the two earning the nickname of the “Rumor Tumor” by the Warcraft community. A good example of Il’gynoth’s predictive habit comes in the form of a line he whispers to you in the Legion raid “Emerald Nightmare”.


To find him, drown yourself in the Circle of Stars.


“Circle of Stars” is the final wing in the Battle For Azeroth raid “The Eternal Palace”. It’s here that the Bags queen, Azshara, frees the Old God, N’Zoth.


I digress though; let’s get back on track. Warlords’ premise was met with a great deal of criticism. Many players felt that it was contrived, ludicrous, and just downright silly. While time travel isn’t anything new in Warcraft (what with the Bronze Dragonflight controlling timelines, alternate realities, and other things; Warcraft’s always been very high-concept in its fantasy since it includes spaceships and whatnot), the notion of traveling to another reality when the likes of the Burning Legion had been repeatedly hinted at during Mists of Pandaria was a real twist of the knife to many. That, coupled with having Orcs be the big bad once more angered a great many players. However, as it would turn out, recycled bad guys and silly time travel/alternate realities were the least of this expansion’s problems.


For starters: Warlords had next to nothing to do in the way of open world content; this was the polar opposite of how Mists had an extremely large number of daily quests. What little open world content there was amounted to a single daily quest for Apexis Crystals and grinding for faction reputation by killing enemies in what amounted to one of the most tedious activities imaginable. Beyond that, you were left to run dungeons for gear or take part in Player vs. Player (PvP), the latter being centered almost entirely on Ashran—the massive battleground that was introduced in Warlords. It quickly garnered the nickname of “Trashcan” from the community due to it being relatively poor in quality. Having partook in Ashran, I think the most fun I had in there was imagining I was a trashcan dog.


Now on the upside: the dungeons and raids were quite popular. However, that alone couldn’t save Warlords. Although the number of subscribers shot up to a whopping 10 million at launch, it would be less than half that by the time it concluded when the pre-patch for Legion arrived in July of 2016. Thus, by the time the expansion ended, players had been left with a paltry two raid tiers, no new battlegrounds (barring Ashran), and a 14-month-long content drought. Overall, it’s generally agreed upon that Warlords of Draenor had proven itself to be a trainwreck. Though one must ask: why is that?


In the eyes of some, it’s because of a lack of proper direction. To others: extreme rewrites during development of the expansion and because of time constraints, a lot of content had to be foregone in favor of making the deadline. One final opinion is that Warlords was outright abandoned early into its development and all true focus was put on the follow-up expansion: Legion. Fittingly, Legion was regarded as one of the best expansions in World of Warcraft’s history (though it isn’t without some heavy criticism of its own, albeit nowhere near as heavy as Warlords).


In my original write-up, I stated that the most likely reason was due to rewrites. I stand by this, though I think that there was a lack of proper direction too. As you’ll see (should you be unfamiliar with Warlords of Draenor), the level of changes implies that there were massive rewrites. Though given that this entry is based off the original write-up, let’s follow the same path as that one (but without the pictures; I sincerely apologize by the way once more). First up: the pre-patch event. It was centered on the sinister Dark Portal—which is how the Orcs of Draenor first came to Azeroth—was once more opening. From it, the forces of the Iron Horde were pouring through it to conquer Azeroth and it’s up to you, the hero, to stop them before it’s too late.


While most pre-patch events are generally fairly sizable and feature a fair number of things to do, Warlords of Draenor’s event was generally seen as disappointing at best and laughable at worst. For starters, there was a small quest line that could be finished in no more than an hour to complete if you’re sluggish at questing like I am and a preview of a remake of the dungeon “Upper Blackrock Spire”. The latter of the two was so aggressively easy to do that it hardly qualified as a preview given you could likely sneeze and finish the instance, but I digress. The event wasn’t always that miniscule. In fact, there was a fair bit more to it. Originally, players were going to go through a phased scenario that would take place in one of the game’s most popular raids: Karazhan. It’s here that you’d discover the link between the former home of Medivh and the Dark Portal. I want you to remember both Medivh and Karazhan as they’ll be relevant later. For now though, let’s continue onward.


First up, let’s discuss the plot. Warlords had a much more ambitious and unique plot than what we got. In the released version, players go through the newly reactivated Dark Portal and go through a scenario where they must deactivate it and then make their way through Tanaan Jungle (more on that later). In the original version, players arrived via what was known as the “Chronal Spire”, a large hourglass that was likely tied to the Bronze Dragonflight. Upon arrival, players would have stopped the Iron Horde from constructing the Dark Portal (as opposed to it already being completed). From there, it’s unknown what would have happened, but it’s likely that the Chronal Spire would have been either deactivated, destroyed, or damaged and as such, you would have been stranded on Draenor without assistance.


Alas, the idea of the Chronal Spire didn’t last for that long. In fact, some of the earliest Alpha builds don’t even contain it, so it’s likely one of the earliest victims to Warlords’ insurmountable changes. However, remnants of it somehow made it into the final product. You see, the original of the Chronal Spire became the Talador subzone known as Zangarra. It’s here that a Bronze Dragon called Chronalis was placed near Khadgar’s Tower and somehow managed to be forgotten about until patch 6.2.2 when he was finally removed. That patch was the second-to-last patch released (barring minor updates that succeeded them for an array of reasons, such as the release of the Warcraft movie in June of 2016). If you wish to see what his descent looked like, here are some images from Wowhead. one final oddity is this red orb that could be found where he landed. While I cannot prove its exact purpose, I believe it to be a relic from where the Chronal Spire would have been located.


Now, while I can’t prove this next part, it’s likely that stopping the construction of the Dark Portal would have been done through a scenario where you would’ve been introduced to the titular warlords of Draenor. These included:


Kargath Bladefist: Warchief of the Shatterhand Clan. I have so many words for this character that I could make an entire write-up centered around him.


Grommash Hellscream: Warchief of the Warsong Clan and father of Garrosh Hellscream. No, I won’t make anymore silly nicknames for him. He was originally intended to be the final boss of the expansion, but got a last second redemption arc. More on this later.


Ner’zhul: Warchief of the Shadowmoon Clan—at least I think he is. I’m honestly not entirely sure because his character is one I’ve admittedly never been that fond of. Whatever the case: his role in the expansion is so pitifully small, you would think Blizzard mistook him for an Alliance character.


Gul’dan: Green daddy whose role was relegated to the final patch and was made the centerpiece of the expansion due to Blizzard having botched up the storyline. He’s a major player of the expansion to some degree and ruled over the Stormreaver Clan. He was the first Warlock and is also the reason for almost everything in the entire history of Warcraft. He also looks like he’s about 700-years-old. Don’t do Fel, kids.


Kilrogg Deadeye: Warchief of the Bleeding Hollow Clan. It’s evident he was intended to have a much bigger role that makes him seem more like a side character as opposed to a major player in an expansion called “Warlords of Draenor”.


Blackhand: Warchief of the Blackrock Clan. This character’s role in the expansion may as well have been filled in by Mothman.


Durotan: Warchief of the Frostwolf Clan. His role in the expansion is so wasted that he and Ner’zhul may as well be brothers.


These characters have really sardonic descriptions to them and there’s a reason for that. In spite of Warlords of Draenor being centered around the warlords (or rather, warchiefs) of Draenor, they play next to no part in the story because their efforts are taken down within the first raid tier when you kill Blackhand in Blackrock Foundry. Said raid tier doesn’t even start with that raid though, it involves ogres. I digress though; this is, to me, evidence that the main story was rushed, subsequently gutted, and then forgotten about. More on that later though. For now, let’s get back on track.


After presumably being introduced to the warlords, it’s likely that you would have either sailed to one of two zones: Frostfire Ridge—which early on was known as Frostwind Desert—if you were a member of the Horde. If you were a member of the Alliance, you would’ve been sent to Shadowmoon Valley. From here, you would have gone through a total of five zones (including the aforementioned two starting ones) until you hit level 100. These zones, in the order of how you would have gone through them, were: Gorgrond, Talador, Spires of Arak, and Nagrand. Upon reaching the maximum level, you would have been given access to Tanaan Jungle and Farahlon (possibly, more on that mess later). Like any video game though, these zones underwent extensive revisions and changes throughout the development of Warlords and as such, it’s finally time to look over them.


The first zone we’ll be looking at is where the Horde—my faction of choice (so there’s absolutely no bias here whatsoever)—start off: Frostfire Ridge. Formerly known as Frostwind Desert, an icy desert filled with purple sand that was called “Frostwind”, the sand was consistently mistaken for snow. As such, the desert concept was scrapped and Frostwind Desert became the icy tundra we now know as Frostfire Ridge; an area filled with volcanic activity and, well, snow.


One of the most interesting changes to the zone is the removal of an insectoid race called the Scorpar. These creatures were described as resembling the Nerubians of Northrend; the former utilizing the latter’s models as placeholders. They would have been an original creation and as such, their inclusion would have hinted at a much greater evil on Draenor—perhaps the Void. However, they never made it past the pre-alpha stage of development and were removed. Despite this, the Void’s presence was still very prominent thanks to the Pale Orcs and Cho’gall. Furthering this was the inclusion of Sandreavers during the pre-patch for Legion, which were added near the shores of the Horde Garrison. On one final note, one major piece of evidence for the presence of the Void during Warlords is concept art for a creature known as the “Void Giant”. However, this fiendish creature was never implemented in any capacity and in the end, the only void-based creature to be featured in Warlords was in the form of the Hellfire Citadel boss, Xhul’horac.


The next major change is less interesting and more legendary for just how much of an uproar it caused. Bladespire Citadel (originally named Bladespire Fortress) was a massive, multi-floored structure that can be found in the western portion of Frostfire Ridge. Occupied by the Bladespire Ogre Clan, it’s retaken by players early in the story of the zone’s storyline. What makes this location so infamous is that it was intended to be the capital city (per-se) for the Horde. Within the citadel, players can find two innkeepers, several vendors, multiple floors that are fully rendered and explorable, but contain absolutely nothing of merit beyond Ogre-styled scenery (which is a lot less interesting than it sounds).


Like many things in Warlords of Draenor though, Bladespire Citadel was met with by Executioner Ion Hazzikostas; his axe of destruction coming down like a thousand lightning bolts and destroying it in the blink of an eye. What was intended to be a remarkably big and unique capital for the Horde was instead transferred to the widely hated and extremely ugly to look at location known as Warspear, which was located on the island of Ashran (it’s worth noting that the actual PvP location was located near Warspear, but you were safe if you went to the so-called “city” itself). This change was met with an extremely large amount of outrage from the Warcraft community who believed that Warspear took away from the concept of being stranded on an alien world. For starters, Warspear contained a large number of portals to the game’s main universe; you could easily get out of this so-called “savage” and “primal” world. While yes, there is a desire for convenience in the game so you can run old content and whatnot, there were also a fair number of familiar faces there along with worn-out places.


Topping things off is the appearance of Warspear itself. While architecture of Ogres isn’t exactly winning any awards to rival the likes of Trump Tower or the Sears Tower, Warspear took the idea of being a hastily built safe haven for the Horde and ran with it so far, it may as well have been a junkyard that had been abandoned for six decades. It’s regarded as being the ugliest faction city in the game and, in my personal experience, I’ve never met anyone who actually liked it. As a twist of the knife by the way: the faction vendor for the Frostwolf Clan, which is the faction tied to Frostfire Ridge and likewise, Bladespire Citadel, still sells an item that teleports the player to the Citadel. It’s such a morbid reminder of what could have been that I cannot fathom why it was left in the game other than to torment the player as to what Warlords had in store for us prior to being made into the shambling corpse it is today.


On the other side of the continent, the Alliance started out in Shadowmoon Valley. A very beautiful zone, Shadowmoon Valley was also featured in Outland as a zone filled with demons and hellfire. However, we’re not here for the doom and gloom of what amounts to the forgotten circle of Hell that Dante wrote about. Nay, we’re here for a world of eternal twilight and mystery. Shadowmoon Valley underwent some changes of its own. Let’s start off with the capital city of the Alliance that was nixed: the Temple of Karabor. What would later become the infamous Black Temple, the Temple was a haven for the Draenei of Draenor and had an aesthetic that was beautiful to say the least. However, unlike Bladespire Citadel, the Temple was not only inaccessible—what with it being barred off from player access—it wasn’t even fully rendered. The only thing one could see was the outside of it. Should you clip through it (or utilize an ability like Eagle Eye; a Hunter spell), you’d see a partially rendered, albeit untextured, hallway.


Although the Temple itself wasn’t utilized as a city, what with the Alliance getting Stormshield on Ashran the Trashcan (an equally appealing-to-look at cesspool like Warspear), there was a theme composed for it that’s seldom used throughout the entire expansion. It’s only heard in a select few areas. Nice work, Blizzard.


The Temple wasn’t the only thing to be axed from Shadowmoon Valley. A questline involving the Worgen, a race of wolf-like bipeds (in other words: werewolves) was removed at some point during the expansion’s Alpha. In it, you would have assisted the daughter of the Worgen leader, Genn Greymane, with finding a flower to prevent the Worgen from becoming feral. For reasons unknown, it was scrapped in favor of a questline involving Fiona, a female Worgen that players accompany through the Eastern Plaguelands with her friends. If you ask me, I think Blizzard realized they’d be giving the Alliance actual storylines and they couldn’t allow such an atrocity to be committed.


The final thing that I’m aware of that was scrapped was a scenario called the “Purge of Grommar”. This would have seen players fighting with Vindicator Maraad to defeat the Iron Horde. This scenario took place after a quest entitled “A Threat We Can’t Ignore”. While it’s not uncommon for quests to be removed during the Alpha and Beta phases of World of Warcraft expansions, the appearance of Shadowmoon Valley was a fair bit different than what it is now. If you wish to see, click here for how it looked early in the Beta and here for as it is now. Why the scenario was removed is unknown, but it likely had to do with certain story changes.


Moving on though: once players hit level 92, they were able to go to the zone known as Gorgrond. This zone is notorious for just how much it changed between the game’s Alpha and what we have nowadays. It’s the living embodiment of night and day. Or in this case: something great versus something so butchered, you’d think Jack the Ripper tried to perform facial reconstruction surgery.


Described as an “industrial area”, Gorgrond is the home of the Laughing Skull and Blackrock Orc Clans. During Warlords’ Alpha, the location was barren and sported little to nothing in the way of flora. It also had a train system that stretched through most of the zone. Although it’s never been confirmed, it’s speculated that this train system would have assisted players with traveling around the zone. Others have suggested that it would have been something of a hazard, with speeding trains barreling through the zone and potentially running ignorant players down. Whatever the case may have been, the train is still in the game to a degree in the form of the max level dungeon known as Grimrail Depot. In it, players board a train and subsequently work to derail it. However, that’s one idea and it’s likely that Grimrail Depot was always going to remain in the game. As for nearly everything else, I’ll let these two images do the talking.


Here’s what’s known as “Alpha Gorgrond”.


Now here’s how it is in game.


If you want, here’s a gif of the two to showcase the difference.


Suffice to say, I believe there to be a small difference. Just a small one though! Just a small one.


Anyways, the Gorgrond that players know and experience today is by absolutely no means what was intended. It’s a shallow and rather meaningless zone that’s one-half barren wasteland and one-half lush forest. What was originally intended was something drastically different. For starters, unlike in the original write-up, I want to introduce you to something very peculiar; something I cannot quite explain. It’s the original concept map for Draenor that was showcased back in 2013. Take a gander by clicking (or tapping if you’re on a mobile device) here.


It’s here that you can see the original name for Frostfire Ridge. However, I want to draw attention to Gorgrond. You can see its original name was Ashrand. I have absolutely no idea if this implies that the little island east of Tanaan Jungle was going to be something entirely different or if it was always intended to be a PvP-based location, but just happened to sport another name. Though how I never mentioned this in the original write-up is beyond me. Perhaps I’d just given up on writing about it. Whatever the case, I find it interesting. Everything else we’ll get into in a bit though; for now, I want to focus on Gorgrond.


During the Alpha for Warlords, the story for Gorgrond was dramatically different. In it, players would have learned the motivations behind the alternate version of Orgrim Doomhammer and Vindicator Maraad, the former offering an actual explanation as to why he sided with the Iron Horde and subsequently betrayed them, while the latter would’ve offered some insight into why he despises Orcs. In the live version, there is no actual motivation for either and players are left with two characters who may as well both desire to light pregnant women on fire and piss on their smoldering corpses. If that sounds extreme: congratulations, you now know how the vast majority of Warlords’ story feels when you play through the questlines.


As stated earlier: that train system was removed—for the most part anyways. There is still a single complete rail near Blackrock Foundry—the second raid released during Warlords’ miserable existence, and a few destroyed rails that are scattered around the zone. A pitiful reminder of what could have been if you’re at all aware of Alpha Gorgrond’s existence.


If you looked at the images linked above, you may have noticed some docks. These are known as the Iron Docks; a dungeon that you can run while leveling and explore in the outdoor world. They were completely relocated, their location in the final version being near a zone that’s known as “The Pit”. Admittedly, their relocation makes a fair bit of sense given that The Pit serves as an enormous which presumably transports Blackrock Ore to the foundry and to the docks so that it may be shipped to various other zones where military bases are set up. However, exactly why this wasn’t the case to begin with puzzles me a fair bit. I digress though: in the finalized version, The Pit became significantly bigger. As for the original location of the docks, the location for the dungeon known as The Everbloom (which features the Botani, which I refuse to cover because I still don’t understand their storyline almost six years later) was added. More on that in a little though.


The end result of these changes resulted in a location that’s one of the most confused locations I’ve ever seen in a video game, let alone any piece of entertainment. The best way I can describe it is if you look at a film like Suicide Squad. A movie that desires to be both lighthearted fun in a manner akin to that of Guardians of the Galaxy while also being a dark, gritty film similar to that of Batman v Superman (which the film succeeded in the DCEU). Gorgrond is essentially that, but with two diametrically opposing types of locations: a barren wasteland similar to that of the Arizona desert and a lush forest like that of the Amazon Rainforest. The two clash and offer precisely no gradual decrease in flora. Yet, amazingly, there is a reason for that clash in life. It’s thanks to the removal of a zone called Farahlon.


Ah, Farahlon. This was arguably the second, maybe third, most controversial removal in not only 0Warlords’ lifespan, but the entire history of World of Warcraft. You see, given that Draenor became Outland in the main universe, this meant that what players would get to see what one of the most gloomy, dead worlds in the game’s history once was. For those curious, click here for a map of Outland.


Hellfire Peninsula? That was Tanaan Jungle. Terokkar Forest? That was Talador. Blade’s Edge Mountains? That’s a hybridization of Frostfire Ridge and Gorgrond. Zangarmarsh is something we’ll get to later. Spires of Arak? That was just destroyed; nobody cares anymore. As for Nagrand and Shadowmoon Valley? They were… Nagrand and Shadowmoon Valley. Likewise, the magic-filled land of Netherstorm was originally the lush, beautiful land known as Farahlon. Alas, it was nixed.


It’s gone.


It went bye-bye into the forever box.


No really, that’s it. An entire piece of what became Outland was just removed. There’s absolutely nothing left of it in game beyond a brief reference to it and in-game maps that inexplicably still show it. Whatever the story was going to be is unknown, though former game director Tom Chilton stated that it was scrapped due to the story for Warlords changing so much that it didn’t fit well with what they planned. He also claimed that it was where boosted characters would have gone, but as development on Tanaan Jungle continued, the development team realized that their vision for Tanaan was exactly what they had in store for Farahlon. However, Tanaan’s design was superior to that of Farahlon, so the latter was scrapped. Why exactly they couldn’t just cobble something together to give the illusion of content is beyond me, especially given that even a third-rate dungeon with three bosses would have at least helped Warlords to appear better than it actually and may have helped its reputation be above that of a dead marmot.


Unsurprisingly, this explanation enraged the Warcraft community. Originally, Tanaan had been set to be explorable at the launch of Warlords. However, it was delayed for reasons unknown; Blizzard claims that it was always intended to release it after the launch of the expansion, few believed that. More on that later though. For now, let’s return our focus to Farahlon—the zone-turned-meme and ask ourselves: can the dead really return? According to Tom Chilton: the answer is maybe.


You see, even though Farahlon was scrapped for Warlords, the zone may be utilized in the future. He pointed to the prison island of Tol Barad; it was intended to be in the game’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, but wasn’t used until the third expansion: Cataclysm. However, over half a decade and nearly three expansions later, this hasn’t happened. Most also believe that it never will due to Blizzard working tirelessly to make sure that Warlords of Draenor isn’t remembered or is at the very least minimized in the way of lore impact. Although, in Battle For Azeroth, you do return to Draenor to recruit the Mag’har Orcs if you play on the Horde side. It’s here that you learn the character of Yrel has gone crazy and is now a genocidal crusader. Deus Vult.


Anyways, we’ll get more into Farahlon later. For now, just know that the southern half of Gorgrond was merged with the zone. Getting back on track, one of the most curious changes in Gorgrond was something that I believe ties into the Scorpar—the insectoid race that was mentioned earlier. Gorgrond had a quest that involved something called “The Thing in the Cave”, which was described as a Qiraji prophet. For those unfamiliar: the Qiraji are much like the Nerubians and, presumably, the Scorpar. Their presence would’ve indicated a much darker evil on Draenor. However, unlike the Scorpar, the removal of this quest didn’t take place in the pre-alpha stages of Warlords’ development. In fact, the quest was kept in-game until some point in the beta. Why this is, I do not know, but it potentially hints at Blizzard having had some grander plan for Gorgrond rather than it being home to three dungeons, a raid, and two world bosses.


On one final note, Gorgrond was also planned to have sand worms that were the same coloration as the Qiraji. However, they were removed alongside the Scorpar. Why this is, I do not know, but I cannot prove for certain that they were tied to either the Qiraji or the Scorpar, let alone if they were intended to even be the same species as either of them. Their removal alongside the Scorpar to me indicates that they were potentially tied to them and their similar coloration to the Qiraji was merely a placeholder feature.


With that, the story of Gorgrond comes to an end. Now let’s move onto the theori—no, let’s move onto Talador. It’s here that players can journey to when they level 94. Unlike the past three zones, Talador didn’t change quite that much. Though there are three notable changes that were made during development.


The first major change involved the death of Vindicator Maraad. In the game’s main universe, he had been in a relationship with the character of Yrel, who I mentioned earlier and will go over later. For now, all you need to know is that she died during the genocide that was committed by the Orcs. In this alternate universe, Maraad was going to once more be in a relationship with Yrel. He would have also survived the Talador campaign. However, both his relationship and his life were scrapped; whatever grand plans Blizzard had for the character were tossed out with about 95% of the expansion. Great job, lads.


The second and easily the most notable change can clearly be seen in the early concept map for Draenor. If you need the image once more, click here. Look down in Talador and you’ll see an area marked as “Shattrath Raid”. Shattrath City was the central hub—the home city—in Outland. Pretty awesome to see it on Draenor, right? Well, too bad: it’s surrounded by a large bubble and as such, you cannot access it. You can explore the outskirts, but whatever lies inside is unknown. As for the raid, that too is a mystery and it’s never been stated as to what would’ve transpired in it as there are no assets or files. So much brilliance on the part of the small indie company known as Blizzard Entertainment. Holy smokes, I could go for some Bailey’s Irish Cream right about now. Gimme that good stuff, lads, I don’t get paid enough to take this make-believe job seriously.


There is a fair bit of speculation on the part of the Warcraft community though. The most commonly accepted idea is that the raid would've been demon-themed as Shattrath is surrounded by the Burning Legion (the demonic army led by the dark titan, Sargeras). Accompanying the demons are a fair number of Iron Horde members.


The third and easily the most minor change, albeit one that’s lore worthy, is that Lotharian Peacekeepers were at some point going to make an appearance during one of the Shattrath scenarios. This would’ve hinted at the Sons of Lothar appearing. Alas, like a great many things related to Warlords of Draenor, they were removed and never returned.


With the land of Talador now completed, we’ve struck level 96 and can now begin our journey into the Spires of Arak. A mountainous region populated by a humanoid avian race known as the Arakkoa, and the land that the Shattered Hand Clan call home, the Spires of Arak is the zone that changed the least. The vast majority of its story doesn’t relate that much to the Iron Horde, though I cannot prove with absolute certainty that this was always the case. Regardless, there is a change of merit.


At the very south of the Spires, there’s an area known as Pinchwhistle Point. It’s a small outpost and a quest hub for the Horde and it’s here that we can find the change I mentioned above. During Warlords’ Beta, the area was known as “Venture Cove”. This might have hinted at the inclusion of the Venture Company, a sleazy mafia-like gang that pops up wherever there’s money to be made. Why exactly they would have been included is unknown, but it’s possible that they would have gotten wind of the alternate universe and would’ve wanted to drill for oil or other valuable substances. As for why they may have been removed, it’s likely that stemmed from the desire to keep the focus of the story on the denizens of Draenor and not any possible threats from back on Azeroth. If this was the case, it’s painfully ironic as that lasted all of seven months before the Burning Legion was brought in because the story was redirected from “Orcs = Bad” to “Demons = Worse”.


Beyond that, Spires remained intact—at least, as far as I’m aware it did. Perhaps there were some minor or superficial changes, but I’ve never been able to find any. So once more, let us move on; once level 97 turned into level 98, players were able to begin questing in Nagrand—a fan favorite zone from Outland and a nostalgia trip for a fair number of people.


Nagrand is, without a doubt, the most lively zone—though some may argue that Shadowmoon Valley holds that title. Whatever you may think, Nagrand isn’t winning any awards for being the most exciting zone to be in. Its grassy plains and clear blue skies are appealing, but its story and outdoor content leave a lot to be desired. My criticisms aside, Nagrand is a very important area for Warlords’ story. It’s the home of the Warsong Clan, which if you remember is led by Garrosh’s father, Grommash Hellscream. Upon entering this world, Garrosh’s first desire was to find allies and he found them in the form of the Ogres of Highmaul, which appear fairly often in both Gorgrond and Talador. This remained consistent throughout Warlords’ development and in a painful bit of irony, the threat of the Ogres was eliminated in the expansion’s first raid: Highmaul.


Beyond that, Nagrand is a largely inconsequential zone through and through. Whether or not this would have been different if Warlords hadn’t had a tumultuous development is unknown, but beyond fighting Garrosh (again; you fought him in the preceding expansion’s final raid as the last boss) and then watching as Thrall kill him, the zone felt more akin to filler than anything else. With that said, Nagrand’s appearance did change a little bit from the Alpha to what was released in the end, but it isn’t considerable enough to warrant any in-depth examination in my personal opinion. This is largely due to many zones in World of Warcraft undergoing some changes and Nagrand mostly saw the western portion where Highmaul was changed. It’s likely that Blizzard did this to accommodate for the inclusion of Zangarmarsh-esque regions (more on those later).


With that said: the bells toll one final time. You have hit level 100; the world is now yours for the taking. Well, sort of. As is the case with any MMO—or at least any game akin to an MMO—the endgame content is where the true game is. To be honest: I loved questing in Draenor. Aside from the connectivity issues that plagued the game for the first several days, it was the most fun I’d had questing for a while and whenever I level a character in World of Warcraft now, I always look forward to questing there. With that said, what came after hitting level 100 prior to the release of Legion, anticipation wasn’t exactly the first thing I had on my mind. It’s here where most of Warlords’ content goes missing and there’s no better place to start than with Tanaan Jungle.


The home of the Bleeding Hollow Clan and what would later become Hellfire Peninsula, Tanaan Jungle was a lush world filled with flora and fauna. While World of Warcraft is by no means a stranger to jungles, what with zones such as Stranglethorn Vale existing, Tanaan was an opportunity for developers to create a truly awe-inspiring location that players had never seen. Warlords was advertised as bringing shiny new models to the game and as such: the stage had been set for something savage, primal, and terrifying. Lights, camera…


Delay.


Yes, as stated a few times throughout this entry, Tanaan was delayed. Cue the umpteenth uproar from a community that had begun to feel that disappointment was now simply clockwork. Bang in for work, feel disappointment for eight hours, bang out from work, eat disappointment for eight hours, go to sleep and dream of disappointment for eight hours.


As was the norm at that point, Tanaan was delayed for what would be seven months—a period that would ultimately lead to the one and only content patch for Warlords. It would be that content patch that would turn the once promising jungle into a mishmash of demonic corruption and war-torn chaos with the same level of direction as a drunk man attempting to navigate a hedge maze.


With that said, there’s something unique about Tanaan that makes it remarkable. Prior to it being accessible by players, it was completely visible to players, much in the same way that the Broken Shore was in Legion. Unlike the demonic Normandy that is the Broken Shore however, Tanaan Jungle was barred off by an invisible wall. In spite of the obstacle, some clever players were able to sneak their way into the unfinished jungle, only to find a hollow, incomplete shell containing only the painful irony of it being devoid of life.


Tanaan was lucky though. Although it was delayed, it wasn’t outright scrapped (though one can argue that its original plan was brought out behind the shed and put down). These next few locations however weren’t so lucky; the first of them is Farahlon, which we’ve discussed a bit in this entry already. Though it’s time to put the spotlight directly on it.


First things first: I want to draw attention to this image. It’s a map of Draenor from the expansion’s Alpha. There are multiple locations that we’ll be looking at, but I want you to take a look so you’ll know where the various islands are. If you don’t want to look at it, don’t worry: I won’t be citing the map. It’s more for convenience.


Now then: as  we discussed earlier: Farahlon was the zone that was merged with Gorgrond to create a mutated, inconsistent zone with a story that’s as shallow as a puddle created by light rainfall. Now as for what Farahlon is: it was described as a verdant, gorgeous location with a lot of flora and fauna. It was originally intended to be a peninsula (as you can see in the concept map that was linked at the start of this entry) and was also the home of the Laughing Skull Clan. It was also the home to the Fara and Farah—two types of creatures showcased in the artbook for Warlords of Draenor. I’ve never been able to find out if these creatures got their name from Farahlon or if the zone got its name from them. Regardless, their appearance is extremely similar to the  Genesaurs and Podlings that appear in Gorgrond. If you want to take a look at them, click here to see what the Fara would have looked like and click here to view what the Farah would have looked like. On one final note: the Fara would have apparently also appeared in Shadowmoon Valley. Why I never mentioned this in the original write-up is beyond me.


As for what was finished of Farahlon, the foundation was completed. It was reachable during the Alpha and I believe parts of the Beta before it was ultimately removed. It also had chat channels that were accessible if you were to go off the northeastern coast of Gorgrond during the Beta (something I can vouch for since, as I stated at the beginning, I beta tested Warlords of Draenor from its early stages; prior to Talador opening up). As for its appearance: there were a few arcane stone clusters that were scattered around, showcasing what would later become Netherstorm. There were also a few Iron Horde outposts that were on the shore, though only one zone was ever finished: Blightstone Quarry.


This quarry was the only fully rendered area and it had a few named subzones, likely indicating it would have either been a location the player would have taken over and made into a daily quest hub or it was the first area that you would have gone to simply kill some Orcs. As for the aforementioned named subzones, they are as follows:


- The Pits An area that was as it states. It was a pit, likely an area where the Iron Horde was mining for ore to fuel their war efforts.


- Digger Flats A location where there was an entrance into a mine. It was also a residential area, indicating there may have been some families on Farahlon. Whether they were members of the Laughing Skull Clan being held prisoner or members of the Iron Horde, I don’t know


- Brawnbelly Barracks As its name states, it was a barracks. If this area had any daily quests, it would have been the perfect place to totally not genocide Orcs.


- The Iron Tower This was likely a command center for either a mini boss in a questline or for a “Wanted” daily quest. Its foreboding name implies it was importantly, regardless of what the case may have been.


Personally, if you ask me: Blightstone and its sub locations would have likely been locations for various daily quests, such as killing X number of Orcs, retrieving certain Iron Horde plans, sabotaging various machines and other mundane, war-based efforts. Topping things off: there were a few mountains near the center of Farahlon, along with a citadel that, in the early concept map, states there was the presence of Ogres. Whether or not this would have been tied to them, I don’t know, but it’s possible the Ogres were meant to play a large role in the original story for Warlords.


Overall, the zone wasn’t exactly the most fascinating location to look at. A lot of content patch islands bear similar designs to Farahlon, but the possibility it would have been changed was high. Over 90% of the island was untextured and it even had its name written in black ink across it (though it was humorously misspelled as Faralohn). Alas, it was removed at some point in the Beta and was never seen or heard from again. Though amusingly, you can still see it on in-game maps. If you wish to view what Farahlon looked like prior to being removed: click..


Here.


Over here too.


Right here also


Oh, right here too.


You gotta click here too.


There's also this one too.


We're almost done, just click here.


This is the last one, I swear. Now click.


I’m sorry that I’m too lazy to use proper image hosts by the way. Anyways, as you can see: Farahlon’s overall appearance is certainly not the most interesting, but such is the way of the untextured location. Now, moving on, the second island was located west of Farahlon and for whatever reason didn’t have a name. It was also a fair bit smaller, but very close to Gorgrond. A small portion of it was textured with a brown pallet which leads me to believe that it was either intended to be a part of Gorgrond or it was meant to be a partner island to Farahlon for the content patch it was intended to be in (much like how the Isle of Giants was partnered with the Isle of Thunder in Mists of Pandaria). As for what the island would have had, I suspected it might have been home to the Laughing Skull Clan after they were forced off of Farahlon by the Iron Horde.


That is, of course, merely speculation on my part. I lack any contacts with Blizzard and even then, it’s been close to six years since the release of Warlords and whatever plans they had for the expansion have likely been shredded to make room for future expansions. With that said, there is a personal story that I have with this island. There was a point when I was testing the game in its beta when I made my way to the northern part of Gorgrond. I went off the coast and ended up entering Farahlon’s chat channels (I never bothered to see if the island itself was even in the game still, but I suspected it might have been). I proceeded to then head north because I saw this unnamed island (which was ultimately removed alongside Farahlon if memory serves me correctly) as it was clearly visible from the northernmost part of Gorgrond, even with one’s draw distance settings on the lowest they could be (which mine were because at the time, I had a potato for a laptop).


Given I loved to find my way out of instance areas because I have a fondness for seeing what lies outside instanced locations in World of Warcraft, I naturally was drawn to this little island. I’d followed Warlords’ development closely as I was hyped for the expansion (subsequently, I have never had any sort of excitement for World of Warcraft’s expansions, even though I still play the game), but for whatever insipid reason: I never bothered to explore—let alone look to see if I could access—either Farahlon or this unnamed island. To this day, it remains my biggest regret in my 10 years of playing World of Warcraft.


The third island was yet another unnamed piece of land. It lay south of the Spires of Arak and was surprisingly still visible even after Warlords launched. However, it was nothing more than a flat, untextured piece of land. What it was intended to be is a complete mystery, though I’m personally of the opinion that it may have been centered around the Arakkoa in some capacity. Its inclusion in the final product is unique too, at least in my eyes, as it indicates that the developers had not wanted to scrap it, but were forced to once they realized that a sudden shift to the Arakkoa would have been jarring and made no sense—even if one character does appear in the final raid as a boss.


The next island is a fair bit more complex than the others. It has a connection to a much larger landmass and is south of Nagrand. One of them is an island and the other is cut off by the map. The latter was confirmed to be the homeland of the Ogres while the other was likely an island that they claimed as their own, but that is mere speculation. For all we know, it could have been yet another Iron Horde outpost that would have been added in a content patch. As for the Ogre homeland ,it was never confirmed to be a part of Warlords.


On one final note, the smaller landmass utilized something unique that the other islands I’ve mentioned didn’t. In the original write-up for this, I mentioned that it used the Outland location of Garadar, which is the hometown of the Mag’har Orcs. This is true for what the Alpha map shows. However, in the actual overworld map from the Beta, this isn’t the case. Click here if you want to see what I mean. That chunk of land in the far left hand side is the Ogre homeland. That island in between it and Nagrand is the island I’m talking about. I stated that Garadar was likely there for scaling purposes, but that, once again, is speculation on my part. As for what may have ensued on the Ogre homeland if it was intended to be a part of a content patch, I cannot say for certain, but given that both Legion and Battle For Azeroth have allowed players to go to Argus and Nazjatar, it’s possible it was going to be in the game and Warlords would have had the first sizable new location for players to explore.


These four islands weren’t the only pieces of content removed. Far from it in fact. Let’s take a trip south of Frostfire Ridge to what’s known as the Zangar Sea. This was scrapped at some point during development, but music was recorded from the zone. This is indicative that this area was intended to be more than the shell that players can fly over, fish in, and swim in if they inexplicably desire to do so (though maybe for a roleplay they wish to do that; World of Scuba Diving anyone?).


In the main universe, the Zangar Sea became Zangarmarsh—a massive marsh with towering mushrooms and fungal-based enemies. In the alternate universe, the sea separates Frostfire Ridge and Nagrand. There are areas in each zone where you can see the marsh beginning to encroach, but these areas serve somewhere between no purpose and absolutely no purpose to the main story. Anyways, at the bottom of the sea, you can see some mushrooms, though beyond this: there’s nothing to the sea whatsoever. Given the aforementioned music, it’s speculated that the sea was intended to be an actual zone akin to the Cataclysm zone known as Vashj'ir. That zone, which took place almost entirely underwater, was notorious for being extremely divisive. Some liked it, others loathed it because underwater combat and World of Warcraft go together like a human face and a shotgun blast.


Of course, we’ll likely never know the exact reason for the Zangar Sea not really amounting to much. However, there’s still more related to it that ended up being nixed. The next thing that met the chopping black were two lighthouses that would’ve lit up the Zangar Sea at night. They were located near the center of the sea, though it’s unknown if they would have functioned like real life lighthouses. If they were going to, it would have been an extremely interesting feature that few, if any, locations in World of Warcraft had.


Arguably the most depressing thing removed was something known as the Fungal Whale. A precursor to the Fungal Giants of Zangarmarsh and even the ones that appear on Draenor, this gargantuan whale is believed to have been a world boss that would have swam from in between Frostfire Ridge and Nagrand and Shadowmoon Valley. This is, as per the norm, speculation, but the concept art alone is something that would have been incredible to see in game. Alas, it was never meant to be and to this day, no creature like it (at least to my knowledge) has ever appeared in game.


Moving on from the sea-turned-marsh, we now make our way to one of the key features of Warlords: the Garrison. There are about 5,000 things I would love to say about the Garrison, but I’ll refrain from it because I would likely get unindexed from Google faster than you could blink.


The Garrison is a base that the player gets after they finish the Tanaan scenario. It’s a location where you can command a grand total of 25 heroes; you can send them out on missions to bring back resources and other rewards. You were also able to get gold from, but no longer can you get some sweet, sweet medieval bitcoin from them. A real shame.


Criticized for being grindy, unrewarding, little more than a location for players to stand idle until the game kick them off, and generally being extremely ugly for Horde players, the Garrison was nevertheless brought back in Legion, Battle For Azeroth, and Shadowlands as the Class Order Hall, the War Campaign, and a name I cannot remember for Shadowlands because I’m too stupid to use Google. All three have had the number of heroes reduced and the rewards increased. The first two were still not well-liked (though the Order Hall storylines in Legion were generally well received). Whatever the case may be for Shadowlands is something I’m unsure of.


When the Garrison was first announced and showcased at Blizzcon 2013, it was stated that it would be a location that you’d be capable of heavily customizing. There would be several plots of land where you could build certain structures, such as a stables, barracks, inn, mage tower, and lumber mill along with other buildings. They would all have their own purposes that would grant you special bonuses and perks, such as faster mount speed, having more followers to send out on missions, and opening portals to allow for quicker travel around Draenor. This level of customization was something that players had desired greatly since the start of the game and after a decade, something resembling player housing was finally going to be available.


Alas, like a great many things connected to Warlords, times changed. While the Garrison made it live, the level of customization was reduced as the number of available plots of land was reduced. Developers stated that they wanted players to feel like they had to choose what building they wanted and that internal testers had “complained” that the Garrison was “too large”. This was naturally met with the most level headed, calm, and collected response from the game’s community. After careful consideration by all, the community began lambasting the developers and saying everything a few words short of having the Federal Bureau of Investigation launch a full scale investigation into why the World of Warcraft community is filled with people battier than Batman hugging a baseball bat in a bat’s nest.


Indeed, the Warcraft community didn’t take the news of their customization options being limited very well. Admittedly, neither did I. Given how reforging was removed in Warlords (a choice that I actually like and still like in hindsight), World of Warcraft had gone from a game of choice to a game of waiting for the right drops. Garrisons (or in the case of the Horde’s overworld map, Garnisons) gave players the chance to customize something in a role-playing game and the choice to reduce the number of available plots of land really took away from that ability to customize something. Unfortunately, the complaints of the community fell upon deaf ears, as it always did throughout Warlords’ lifespan.


Another major point to the Garrison was its location. Originally, it was advertised that you could have your Garrison be in any of the zones on Draenor. This was nixed in favor of the Horde Garrison being in the frozen Hell that is Frostfire Ridge and the Alliance Garrison being located in the tranquil and beautiful Shadowmoon Valley. This restriction was widely criticized—especially on the Horde side. While Frostfire Ridge is definitely a beautiful looking location (the art team for World of Warcraft is one of the greatest in the gaming industry), the idea of having your base of operations be in a tundra isn’t exactly the most appealing from a roleplaying perspective. In fact, it makes one think that their character will end up dying from hypothermia.


The pain wasn’t limited to just the Horde though. It was discovered at some point that within the game’s files were alternate designs that were centered around the various races of each faction, such as Tauren and Blood Elf designs for the Horde. The former of those two races is heavily inspired by Native American architecture while the latter is a lot more pristine and traditionalistic in the way of fantasy designs; it’s a stark contrast to the more rugged, tribal appearances that are the norm with Horde races. On top of that: it was discovered that the Garrison locations in the other zones were still in the game. The discovery of these alternate appearances and the alternate locations caused an uproar that at this point was more inline with a Varg Vikernes than a scorned playerbase.


Topping off the Garrison’s sordid story was the statement that it would not be tied to Warlords’ story whatsoever. This was either one of the most boldfaced lies ever told in a manner that would’ve made even Todd Howard wince or somehow, the developers realized that the Garrison was so wildly unfun that they had to force players to use it so that it wouldn’t be seen as a catastrophic failure. Whatever the case may have been, the Garrison ended up being sown to the player at the hip and it was required for nearly every single activity they wanted to do. This caused an extreme amount of outrage—as if that was a surprise to anyone at that point. If it was, then ignorance truly is bliss or the person surprised wasn’t paying attention to the entire development of an expansion for the game they were playing.


On one final amusing note: this so-called optional feature was required in the follow-up expansion, Legion. The artifact weapons the players would get had to be upgraded at the supposedly “optional” Class Order Hall. Granted, there’s a good reason for their mandatory moments, but the travel time was met with some serious backlash. I guess tone deafness and Blizzard go hand-in-hand—like Peter Molyneux and disappointment.


Moving on from the Garrison, we reach the character of Yrel. There are 200 things one could say about this totes original OC (pls no steal), but one can summarize it as “I’m not a Mary Sue, I’m just a self-insert OC written by a ten-year-old girl for her fanfic”. I’ve been holding in my feelings for Yrel for a long time now and while I don’t think the idea behind her is inherently bad, the handling of her character is one of the biggest travesties in storytelling that I’ve seen outside of, well, a fanfic. I’m not sorry for dedicating one whole paragraph to me ranting about how much I hate her either.


Originally named Eryl, there was a massive hurdle that Yrel had to overcome given she was randomly introduced and touted as being a main character/grandiose hero. Her announcement sparked a lot of excitement and skepticism and her overall story arc amounted to little more than becoming a paladin who later went crazy. Whatever happened to her when Horde players last saw her in Battle For Azeroth is up for debate, but I personally would like to think her head became a fireplace mantle decoration.


As for Yrel’s story, it was something that I personally believe went through extensive rewrites. This likely led to the next major change: something that was called “Yrel’s Dark Secret”. This so-called “dark secret” led to a considerable amount of speculation, though the most popular theory is that she’s the daughter of either Archimonde the Defiler or Kil’Jaeden the Deceiver—the top two lieutenants of Sargeras. However, this theory hasn’t been confirmed and given that Yrel has become a villain and the Burning Legion has been defeated (with both Archimonde and Kil’Jaeden likely being dead), many have stopped caring, if they even did to begin with.


Now that my whining about Yrel is done, let’s talk about how the final boss of Warlords changed. During the Q&A session at Blizzcon 2013, a fan—whose demeanor was one of the cockiest I’ve ever seen—asked the developers who the final boss of Warlords would be. Tom Chilton responded by deadpanning that the loot piñata this time around would be Grommash Hellscream. The fan reacted shocked and it seemed that amused Chilton a fair bit. However, times changed and so too did the final boss. Grommash got a slapdash redemption arc and the final boss became Archimonde (whose fight was admittedly fun).


With that said, it’s possible that Archimonde was intended to make an appearance in the expansion in some capacity. He appears in a toy that drops from one of the many vignette rare spawns on Draenor, the speech he gives when you activate said toy referring to the Burning Legion conquering a location, and there’s also the Shattrath City raid. That raid was likely meant to take place between the Orc-themed Blackrock Foundry and whatever Hellfire Citadel would have been (presumably Iron Horde themed). Shattrath, given the demon presence outside of it, would have been centered around demons and Gul’dan and as such, it likely would have featured Archimonde in some capacity.


Unfortunately, Shattrath’s raid was scrapped and the only reference to it is at a graveyard within the Alliance Garrison. If you go there, you’ll find a plaque that, when hovered over, reveals text that reads “Ray D. Tier”. While it’s never been officially confirmed, the reference to a scrapped raid tier was a huge meme during Warlords’ lifespan and most believe that said raid tier was the Shattrath raid. As a side note: the scrapped raid tier is, in my eyes, the biggest crime of Warlords. The developers stated that implementing flying would cost the expansion a raid tier. That’s such a boldfaced lie that I’d sooner believe that Keith Richards is mortal.


Although Grommash may have ended up being axed as the final boss, his legendary axe—Gorehowl—remained in the game as a legendary-quality, and visually updated (given Gorehowl originally dropped in the Karazhan raid that was mentioned early in this entry) weapon. Where exactly Gorehowl would have dropped from is unknown, though it would have likely been either an extremely rare drop from Grommash if he’d remained the final boss or it may have been a quest reward for a 2-handed melee class questline that was never made. If you wish to see what this version of Gorehowl looked like, please click on the word “potato”, because that’s what I used to play World of Warcraft on. A potato. Was it a literal one? You’ll never know.


Given these changes to the raid setup in Warlords, what ultimately rounded out the expansion was Hellfire Citadel, a 14-month-long piece of content that, while I admittedly really like, got boring once Archimonde was on farm and Xhul’horac was still an insufferably frustrating fight if people couldn’t do the mechanics right (boy, I should look in a mirror more often). It was in this raid  that Grommash also got his so-called “redemption” moment. This is in spite of how he massacred countless innocents and tried to conquer two worlds. Now what was this redemption moment? Well, Grommash took up arms against Archimonde on account of common enemies and whatnot. That, apparently, qualifies as redemption. Good writing, folks. I sit in front of a keyboard writing things like this that take days—literal days—and I get paid as much as a 4chan jannie. Meanwhile, this kind of material is published and sold for $60 and millions buy it. Where did I go wrong in my life?


Moving onward from that, let’s take a trip over the Caverns of Time—the home of the Bronze Dragonflight (besides the point in time when Marilyn Monroe was alive because hoooooowl). It involves a Drakonid that belonged to the Infinite Dragonflight known as the “Infinite Vanguard”. It appeared towards the end of the Beta for Warlords and was accompanied by a time travel that had appeared above the Kalimdor zone of Tanaris. For whatever inexplicable reason though, both the Infinite Vanguard and the rift were removed when the Warlords went live.


This is made even stranger given the actions of one Kairozdormu. Also known as Kairoz and that obnoxious NPC who gave players daily and weekly quests on the Timeless Isle to go mindlessly slaughter creatures in the name of getting time-related items before luring you into his inconspicuous white van that would make even the FBI go “dang, that’s some good camouflage”, Kairoz was a bad guy masquerading as Keanu Reeves (haha funny meme, am I cool yet Reddit?). You see, dear reader, Kairoz enlisted members of the Infinite Dragonflight (basically the anti-Bronze Dragonflight who wish to corrupt timelines) to aid the Dragonmaw Clan. In the events of the tie-in novel “War Crimes”, the Dragonmaw Clan and the Infinite Dragonflight broke Garrosh out of prison and helped him to escape to the alternate universe. Cool, right? I’d say so. However, there's one problem.


The Infinite Dragonflight is never mentioned, brought up, or even referenced at any point in Warlords of Draenor. This is made even more baffling given the Dragonmaw Clan was given a model update that gave them yellow eyes—an eye color that is associated with time-based magic—they never appear on Draenor. With that said, Warlord Zaela, the leader of the Dragonmaw Clan, was at one point said to have gone to Draenor with Garrosh, Shokia, and members of the Venture Company (the folks that are speculated to have set up shop in the Spires of Arak).


Let’s head back to Gorgrond for this next piece of removed content—or at least speculated piece of removed content. Yes, I know we’re bouncing around a lot and I do apologize for that. It’s how the original write-up was laid out and I don’t really know how to properly go about covering each piece of removed/potentially removed/canceled piece of content, especially when there’s so much of it. I digress though: it’s in Gorgrond that we must go all the way north, across the barren wasteland that makes up what Gorgrond should have been. It’s here that we’ll find a zone named Broken Horn Village. It’s home to several Laughing Skull Orcs, many of who are survivors of the Goren attack that takes place during the third-rate excuse that the developers inexplicably called the Gorgrond storyline. What? It may have been nearly six years since Warlords was released, but the storyline in Gorgrond still makes me angry. Don’t judge me.


Oh whatever, I’ll defend my excuses for breaking my real of being unbiased another day. Anyways, Broken Horn Village, despite being tucked away in a location where it would seemingly never be found, still has a vendor, innkeeper, and a surprisingly large number of NPCs that serve precisely no purpose whatsoever. Not once do they ever play any significant role, nor do they offer anything of merit (such as a purchasable toy, mount, or cosmetic and transmogrifiable piece of equipment). Due to their general uselessness and inconsequential existence (boy, that’s depressing), it’s been speculated that this area was going to be the new capital for the Laughing Skull Clan after the Gorgrond storyline ended and players hit level cap. At that point, the area would have turned into a daily quest hub for Horde players for actual content could be partaken in as opposed to sitting in their Garrison turning into Frosty the Snoworc. 


Let’s take a trip back to our Garrison—oh who am I kidding, we never left it. The Garrison campaign that players took part in throughout the duration of Warlords is admittedly something I thought was fairly decent (barring how much of it involved us sending out our followers to do quests that would’ve been a lot more fun if we could have done it ourselves). The campaign mostly revolved around getting a legendary ring that for whatever insipid reason lacked an animation and as such was generally seen as a downgrade from the legendary cloak players got throughout Mists of Pandaria, which did have an animation was generally really dang awesome.


Ahem, I digress. The Garrison campaign also involved the alternate universe’s Gul’dan (the main universe one being as dead as my hopes and dreams for ever escaping quarantine). Gul’dan’s working on his master plan to once again try to have the Orcs drink the blood of Mannoroth and crash this plane with no survivors. At one point, during one of the campaign quests that takes place in Frostfire Ridge, Gul’dan meets with Teron’gor (who later becomes Gorefiend) and Cho’gall, a two-headed Ogre who’s an extremely powerful mage who later became the chieftain of the Twilight’s Hammer. Both Teron’gor and Cho’gall were dispatched to Talador and Nagrand respectively. Early in the Alpha, there was a fourth character that many Warcraft players would have immediately recognized: Medivh.


The last guardian of Tirisfal, the owner and wielder of Atiesh, and the first individual to open the Dark Portal to let the Orcs into Azeroth, Medivh was an extremely powerful mage who was unfortunately corrupted by Sargeras while in his mother’s womb. He was subsequently killed by the pun-making fan favorite character, Khadgar—who went on to become the wielder of Atiesh. Medivh’s one of my favorite characters in all of Warcraft and the fact he was potentially nixed is one of the most frustrating and, quite honestly, saddening aspects of the expansion. I’ve always thought there was a lot more that could have been done with him and while to a certain degree I’m glad he was left out of such a poorly made expansion, I still wish I could have gotten to see him play some role in it (especially given his ties to the Dark Portal).


Though given Medivh is dead, those unfamiliar with Warcraft may wonder: how would he have any impact if he’s, well, six feet under? That’s easy to answer: he lives on as a spirit in his home of Karazhan. This has led some to believe that Medivh’s cameo would have been the first indicator at a redemption arc for Grommash and that Medivh was going to be the true final boss of Warlords and not Archimonde or Grommash. Whether or not this is true or not remains a mystery as it is, you guessed it, speculation.


Given that we were talking about Gul’dan a few paragraphs ago, let’s continue on with him. The Stormreaver Clan was set to appear; several NPC IDs connected to prominent members of the clan were datamined during Warlords’ Alpha. This, coupled with an Archaeology artifact that referenced them, was a giant neon sign that pointed towards them appearing and setting the stage for some really awesome lore possibilities as we meddled with the timeline in this universe’s Draenor. Then came changes and early into Warlords’ Beta phase, they were replaced with the Shadow Council. Yet, in spite of this, the official Warlords webcomic showcases Gul’dan with a few guards wearing clothing that’s similar to that of the Stormreaver Clan’s traditional garments. Whether this was sheer incompetence on the part of the artists or if there simply wasn’t enough time to change the coloring is unknown, but I sure hope it wasn’t the former of the two. That would be really embarrassing.


Continuing on, we have an aspect of World of Warcraft that’s always been something I’ve never understood a lot. Character customization is something I will never quite grasp, though I guess I understand why some people are fond of it. After all, in a role-playing game, this is meant to be your character. So while I may not get it, I do get it. If that makes any sense.


With that inconsistency said, I will admit that I wish there was something that would each class feel more like the, well, class. Enter class accessories: an aesthetically pleasing feature that was announced alongside Warlords and subsequently nixed for reasons unknown. Some of the accessories announced were: quivers for Hunters, Librams for Paladins, and Totems for Shamans. As players leveled up, the accessories would change in their appearance; Hunter quivers gained more pouches and Paladin librams would become more holy in appearance.


Minor details and items like these accessories are things that I believe help to create a truly impactful class identity. So it makes the delay all the more baffling. Since their announcement, three expansions have been announced and two have been released. Supposedly, these accessories are still in the works, but over half a decade later, nothing has emerged. The closest to any of them that I’ve ever seen as far as Hunter quivers go comes in the form of a quiver that would appear when Marksmanship Hunters used Thori’dal during Legion. Why that couldn’t stay when Battle For Azeroth was released still boggles my mind.


In short: no, I doubt these accessories will ever come out.


On the other side of things, this next piece of content did come or. However, it was a bit different when first announced. The Adventurer’s Guide was designed to assist players by informing them about what content was both the most relevant and rewarding. However, it was nowhere to be seen when Warlords went live.


When patch 6.2 arrived seven months after the expansion went live, a feature called the Dungeon Journal accompanied it. This was, in essence, the Adventurer’s Guide, but with some differences (primarily in its layout). For starters, I have no idea if the Adventurer’s Guide would have provided encounter information for novice players as the Dungeon Journal does. Regardless, the journal is one of the nicest quality of life inclusions in World of Warcraft’s history and provides a fair bit of assistance for new players so they don’t feel lost or stuck when running a dungeon or raid, so it’s nice that it still made it into the game in some capacity.


Speaking of raids, that brings us to our next talking point. Easily the most popular and, to a degree, beloved aspect of Warlords was its raids—all three of them. They brought a non-linear format to the table that hadn’t been seen since Cataclysm four years prior (though Siege of Orgrimmar did at one point offer you the option to fight Siegecrafter Blackfuse or the Spoils of Pandaria and Thok the Bloodthirsty prior to advancing to the Paragons of the Klaxxi). They were also exciting, sported flashy models and effects, and were generally praised for simply being very fun. However, the third raid, Hellfire Citadel, was criticized for generally lacking color and going on for way too long. Fittingly, HFC (as it’s called by the community) also had the fewest changes made to it. The first two, on the other hand, had some changes that are more than worth mentioning.


The first raid—Highmaul—was released in December of 2014. Containing seven bosses in total, this raid served as the anticlimactic conclusion to the Iron Horde’s alliance with the Gorian Ogre Empire and also saw Cho’gall get unceremoniously killed off in a Mythic only boss fight. Suffice to say, it wasn’t exactly a great raid in the story department, but it was nevertheless a very fun, entertaining first raid that had some fairly challenging fights and also gave us some rising mountains in the form of Tectus. It was also the raid with the biggest change in the form of the fate of the first boss: Kargath Bladefist.


The choice of having Kargath as the first raid boss of the entire expansion was extremely controversial. While his fight was very fun, his fate as it stands is that he dies, his dying quote being:


And that's... one hundred…


This is referencing how you only kill 99 Orcs when you meet him in Tanaan, but flee before killing the one-hundredth. A really cheap move on our part given we had Khadgar with us. Oh well, c’est la vie.


Kargath’s fate wasn’t always going to be one that would leave him as yet another dead Orc in our heroic deeds on Draenor. Originally, he was going to have his bladefist torn off at the end of the fight before he fled the arena, leaving behind a trail of blood. In the eyes of players, this was indicative that he was going to return for a rematch at some point in the expansion (likely in whatever the final raid would’ve been). However,once the expansion went live, Kargath was instead killed in a manner so lazy, one has to wonder exactly why they simply didn’t place him as the second-to-last fight as opposed to Ko’ragh, the Ogre who we never see in the outside world as far as I’m aware. Oh well, I guess iconography, lore, and a general sense of apathy reigned supreme at Blizzard when designing the layout of Highmaul.


Oh well, I digress. The second raid—Blackrock Foundry—was released in February of 2015 and is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite raids ever released. It was fun, it was exciting, it featured a boss who called in trains, and best of all: I got to make a great deal of entertaining memories while running it. Unfortunately, I also happened to be a real dick at the time and to a degree, I still am (though some may argue that I’m an astronomical dick nowadays). Whatever your views of me are, one thing is for certain: Blackrock Foundry is widely considered to be one of the best raids ever released in World of Warcraft’s lifespan. Kind of surreal to think that given what the general reception of Warlords is, but I guess even some of the worst things in life can offer the best content.


I’m not sure of any major changes to the actual bosses inside the raid, but there were some major changes made to the exterior of the raid. Click here for a gif I made from a video made by the late Hayven Games (rest in peace, your videos were amazing).


As you can see: the exterior was expanded upon drastically. This coincided with the expansion of The Pit, that area outside the raid which has no relation to The Pits of Farahlon. In fact, I’m almost certain whatever The Pits were going to be ended up becoming The Pit outside of the foundry. Though that’s merely speculation on my part. In spite of the raid growing in size outside, it stayed more or less the same inside. Click here to see a concept map of the layout. As for how it looks now, all I can find is a map for the Black Forge. The rest of the raid is nearly identical to the raid’s concept map with a few changes made to the positioning of where things were (likely to simplify where players would decide to go when they opted to pick a wing to go through). This is most notable with the Slag Works, which ended up being placed close to the Iron Assembly.


That’s all there is in the way of raids and as such, let’s once more move onto something else. In this case, let’s discuss one of the big selling points for Warlords: new character models. It was something that players had been asking for for years and finally, after a decade, players were getting them. A few people laughed, a few people cried, but most were silent because it was touted as a major selling point when the first trailer premiered at Blizzcon 2013. I also believe that most attendees and viewers  remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”.


The anger didn’t end at touting new character models as a major selling point though. Some races weren’t even getting updated models and one of these races were Blood Elves, the Horde answer to the Draenei; both were released in the first expansion back: The Burning Crusade in January of 2007 (my single-digit IQ self said it was 2006 and I apologize for the false information). So why the anger? Well, the Draenei were getting updates. This is somewhat understandable: the Draenei play a major part in Draenor’s story and the Blood Elves didn’t. However, Blizzard inexplicably couldn’t say something like that and state that the models simply weren’t ready or didn’t meet their standards. No, instead, they claimed that they weren’t ready on account of “time restraints”. Something about that really just screams “we’re too busy trying to salvage this expansion, please wait a few more months while we pour resources into a dead-on-arrival $60 addon”. Oh well, at least they weren’t like the Worgen and Goblins. Their updated models wouldn’t be seen for another four-and-a-half years when they finally got them in patch 8.2.5.


On the topic of character models, there were new and what appeared to be completed hair styles that were never implemented. Character customization has always been limited in World of Warcraft and the decision to not add these hairstyles—if one was ever even given—infuriated the playerbase. On the bright side, a mere six years later, character customization would be greatly increased upon with the expansion pack: Shadowlands. Why it took six years is beyond me, but one can only assume that Blizzard felt that class fantasy was more important than making one’s character feel like their own. Though hey, at this point: the idea of disappointment was the new “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature” and boy oh boy did Warlords of Draenor offer a whole lot of features in that regard.


Arguably the biggest disappointment of Warlords was that of flying. A staple of World of Warcraft since The Burning Crusade, the developers inexplicably decided to nix a feature that had been in the game for close to a decade on the basis of encouraging exploration. Even more confounding: there were talks of taking the entire concept and canning it until the game’s servers offline. For those unfamiliar with World of Warcraft: flying is a beloved feature as it allows for a quick way to get around the world, avoid undesired combat, to use all sorts of fancy new mounts. After all, all the cool mounts fly. Dragons, serpents, and flying mechanical gnome heads.


The decision to not allow for flight on Draenor was met with some of the harshest and most vocal backlash in the game’s history and when you take into consideration the scorn that the game’s community had already felt towards Warlords, that’s saying a whole lot. Still, the developers tried to excuse this decision by doubling down on their desire to have players “explore” from the ground and attempt to find all of the treasures that were scattered around the world. There were also jumping puzzles which were as fun as sticking needles beneath your fingers and slowing tearing out your nails. On the bright side: the developers did add in a toy that would launch players into the sky and allow them to glide around for a brief period of time. It was called Aviana’s Feather and to be quite honest, it was a great deal of fun to play around with.


After roughly a year, the developers caved to the complaints, anger, and absolute seething that the community had sent their way. Flying was reintroduced via an achievement named “Pathfinder” that required players to accomplish certain tasks in Tanaan Jungle, such as hitting Exalted with certain factions and completing certain storylines. The feedback on this achievement was generally well received, though its reception when it was reintroduced in Legion, Battle For Azeroth, and presumably Shadowlands has been more divisive thanks to it being more drawn out. Nevertheless, its reception has been warmer than most reception launched towards both Warlords and Battle For Azeroth.


A very small piece of removed content comes in the form of a removed faction: Operation: Aardvark. What this faction would have been tied to, I don’t know, but I imagine it might have been tied to one of the removed islands, perhaps a race of Aardvark-esque creatures that resided on Farahlon or the island that rested north of Gorgrond. However, that’s pure speculation on my part. Perhaps there were plans for a crossover with Arthur.


The final piece of removed PvE (or Player versus Environment) content that we’ll discuss is by no means something major, let alone truly noteworthy. However, it baffles me nonetheless because it feels like something that should have been kept in as it pays homage to Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, which fits right into the idea of exploring Draenor prior to it being torn apart.


The content in question was an item called the “Mysterious Flower”. Looting it would yield a toy with a thirty-minute-long cooldown that, upon being used, would give the player a flower. On its own, this is nothing special in the absolute slightest. However, what was special is that, when you looted the flower itself, an Orc would appear and say:


The legends were true!


After this, he would be stabbed by another Orc.


The flower, and the mysterious Orc himself, are references to the “Flowerpicker Clan”, an easter egg in the aforementioned Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal. Exactly why this toy was removed is something that, to this day, confuses me to no end. To make things even weirder, one Mysterious Flower remained in Talador in spite of it having been removed everywhere else when the expansion. It was removed some time after the launch of Warlords (presumably, its inclusion was simply an oversight by the developers), but why something this insignificant was nixed perplexes me. It feels like it would’ve fit right in with the setting of the expansion, but I guess allowing fun and amusement is something that cannot be allowed.


With that, let’s move onto the Player versus Player (or PvP for short) section of this write-up. While not the biggest scene in World of Warcraft, PvP is still enjoyed by a great many players. Battlegrounds—or as I think of them: sneedposting with 500% more toxicity—are the most casual way to enjoy PvP in World of Warcraft and luckily, there are many to choose from. Capture the flag, resource races, 40 vs. 40 epic battlegrounds, and a plethora of others.


Given that World of Warcraft is centered around two factions (the Horde and the Alliance), there’s always some sort of PvP aspect to expansions. Mists of Pandaria had a bit of a faction war going on its storyline, but it wouldn’t be until 2018’s Battle For Azeroth that a full-blown faction war would break out—and somehow botch it up six ways from Sunday. Still, the story doesn’t need to be centered around the factions clashing for them to, well, clash.


That finally brings us to Ashran—the zone I mentioned several times at the start of this entry, but have never honed in on in any meaningful capacity. Ashran was hyped up as being the greatest thing since the Internet and was the big PvP zone that was located on an island east of Tanaan Jungle. It’s also where Warspear and Stormshield were located (which we’ll talk more about in a bit). As for where the PvP action took place, it was located just past a gate that would automatically put you into a queue for what many consider to be the single worst piece of PvP content created in World of Warcraft’s long history.


Exactly what Ashran was meant to be is to this day a mystery to me. You were tasked with killing the enemy faction’s commander. A rather simple goal, but Ashran took a great many ideas from Alterac Valley (which many consider to be one of the greatest battlegrounds in the game). These included summoning various creatures to aid you and purchasing buffs via lootable currencies to make yourself stronger. These are all really cool features that can make the battleground longer, but ultimately more fulfilling if you’re into more strategic PvP combat (it encourages a game plan that you seldom see in PvP nowadays—especially in World of Warcraft).


Where Ashran goes wrong is in just how chaotic it is. While Ashran has become a fair bit more popular in recent times due to changes made to it, it was widely considered one of the worst pieces of content made when it was first released. One of the biggest criticisms made to it was how there’s PvE content that non-PvPers are encouraged to do. One of these was in the form of the Garrison’s auctioneer. If you got the Trading Post (which I did), you could build an auctioneer—which would give you access to the game’s auction house. Almost all of these parts were extremely easy to get, save for a few pieces that you could only get in Ashran. This meant that, even if you despised PvP, you needed to either go into Ashran in order to obtain these pieces and waste countless hours of your life getting killed by the enemy faction or mercilessly grinding enemies and fighting off other players who also wanted the pieces or you had to spend a lot of gold to buy them. I, personally, grinded them, but I also auctioned off the duplicates I got to make some money.


I have no idea if there were any changes specifically made to Ashran prior to its release as I’ve never been big into the game’s PvP scene (I think it’s far too toxic and aggressive, but I do occasionally PvP when I feel like being an absolute troll) and as such, I cannot vouch for anything beyond Ashran having post-release changes made to it (primarily to make it flow smoother). What I can say is that, during Warlords’ Alpha, the island itself was significantly smaller and had a colossal skeleton on it. The Colossals were a race of large creatures that are never seen. The rumored skeleton of the last living Colossal can be seen in Frostfire Ridge—specifically Grom’gar— click here to see it. The ancestors of the Colossals can also be seen in-game; the Magnaron, such as Drov the Ruiner (who serves as a world boss in Warlords of Draenor) and Gruul (who serves as a boss in both The Burning Crusade and Warlords) are both descendents of the Colossals. Ogres and Orcs are also, by association, descendents.


The Colossal skeleton on Ashran was later and subsequently, the island was made larger, the cities themselves also changing (here’s a look at how Stormshield looked during the Alpha versus how it looks now). It’s at this point that I can only guess that Ashran became the centerpiece of PvP in Warlords. Though it wasn’t always meant to be that way—presumably at least. There are a total of five unfinished battlegrounds that were found in the game’s files after Warlords’ release and accompanying them were the five stages of grief.


Unreleased battlegrounds are by no means something new to World of Warcraft; you need not look farther than the infamous Azshara Crater. That was planned as a battleground during “Vanilla WoW”, but was never released. It was then one of three battlegrounds planned for Mists of Pandaria, but once again never made it live. Ultimately, Silvershard Mines and Temple of Kotmogu were the ones to make it live with a third battleground known as Deepwind Gorge being added later into the expansion’s life.


As for the four battlegrounds found within the files, they were simply known as “SmallBattleground” and had been marked as A, B, C, and D. The first of these is the only one to have any sort of relation to Draenor itself. It consisted of Bladespire Citadel and Gilneas, the Worgen’s capital city that’s in the Eastern Kingdoms back on Azeroth. I have no idea why these two were paired together, though I suspect the Worgen (or the Alliance as a whole) were at one point going to try and establish a foothold in Frostfire Ridge. It’s that, or Gilneas was being used for scaling purposes.


The second map ended up becoming a reality during Legion when PvP Brawls were introduced into the game. In this case, the battleground is that of Arathi Basin which was one of the first pieces of instanced PvP content ever put into World of Warcraft. However, there’s a twist: it’s covered in snow. Back when this battleground map was first discovered, Brian Holinka, who was  the head of PvP during Warlords prior to leaving (and subsequently returning to spearhead PvP once more some time later), had confirmed that the map would eventually become a reality. Nice to know that something that was potentially intended to be in Warlords was eventually used.


The map known as SmallBattleground C contains absolutely nothing in it and as far as I’m aware, it still doesn’t. As such, whatever you think it may have been—if it was intended to even be anything—is entirely up to you. I personally like to think that it was intended to be a battleground set entirely in nothingness and you were intended to maneuver around invisible walls to capture resource points. In all reality, it was likely used to test out PvP Brawls or something akin to that.


SmallBattleground D was largely the same until patch 6.2 when Tanaan was finally released. Once that patch dropped, the file was updated to contain the map for Deepwind Gorge. In the original write-up, I asked why exactly that battleground was added, but that battleground received an update a mere four or so years later during the lifespan of Battle For Azeroth. So it’s possible that the plan to update Deepwind Gorge—or at least a fair number of battlegrounds (Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin also received updates during Battle For Azeroth) had existed for a fair amount of time. It’s also possible that the map was intended to test the PvP Brawl “Deepwind Dunk”, wherein players retrieve basketballs and dunk them into the opposing factions net. They also perform the normal tasks of the battleground. The latter is more likely, but I still wanted to mention the former as Deepwind Gorge’s update was a radical overhaul and not just a visual update.


The fifth and final battleground—which is the only one to have an actual name—was confirmed by Holinka to merely be an experiment on the part of the developers. Known as Heroes Through Time, the map featured scale models of humans, orcs, and ogres. It also contains several unnamed subzones, like a workshop with architecture belonging to the Goblin race and a small village. Whatever the intention or potential idea behind Heroes Through Time was, we’ll likely never know. However, there was a fair amount of backlash to a lack of new battlegrounds when Warlords was released and the discovery of these files greatly upset the PvP community. It wouldn’t be until the pre-patch of Legion that a new battleground—Seething Shore (what a fitting name for the PvP community if I do say so myself)—would be released. As a side note: there had always been a new battleground each expansion until Warlords. Some may argue that Ashran was a battleground, though it was quasi-instanced and had downtime after one side won it (which was a monumentally dumb idea if I may interject).


The PvP scene of World of Warcraft is by no means limited to just battlegrounds however. A more intense, challenging, and gamer-rage-friendly part of it comes in the form of Arenas. It’s here that players are pitted against other players in, well, arenas in teams of either 2, 3, or 5 players. While they’re intended for more hardcore players, Arenas still offer some casual-friendly content in the form of Arena Skrimishes. However, we’re not here to talk about them. No, we’re here to talk about the more competitive side. You see: Warlords was intended to introduce something called the Trial of the Gladiator.


Initially designed to bring the concept of the Arena Tournament realms into the normal game realms, the Trial of the Gladiator would make it so players could take part in these limited time matches and challenge other players to some good old fashioned gladiatorial matches. Once you’d entered the match, you could purchase the necessary gear, enchantments, and gems from a vendor, then enter the arena and face off against your opponent who, presumably, would have a similar arena ranking to yours. There would also be something attached to these matches known as “Tournament Rules”. These rules would dictate that you could earn an arena ranking on certain days of the week through rated matches (so no casual-based ranking). On days when you couldn’t earn a ranking, these matches would simply be practice matches. On final note, missing certain ranked matches would not affect your ranking in any way, shape, or form.


While the concept behind Trial of the Gladiator was certainly interesting, it wasn’t met with the best of reception and as such, it was scrapped. The main criticism was that the way the “trial” functioned wasn’t player friendly and the pre-set times to earn rewards was punishing and idiotic. Not helping matters was that the normal Arena system would almost certainly see a drop off in a number of players who would partake in it since the Trial of the Gladiator would be more casual friendly and would offer equal rewards.


This is where I’m going to conclude this entry. There is undoubtedly more what I could list off, but it’s either really insignificant or would be repetitious. So close this off: I want to say that when it comes to the phrase “what could have been”, I don’t think there is a better poster child than Warlords of Draenor. It’s astounding just how much was removed from this expansion and the fact more people don’t know just how much got axed is remarkable. While I know World of Warcraft isn’t something everyone has played, I wish more people talked about just how gutted Warlords was. Oh well, I digress. Let us continue onward.

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