Topic 24 from the lovely ladies known as Z and Cinder asks the following: How do you feel about the “Class Fantasy” Blizzard promised for Legion? Did it deliver or not so much?
Hoo boy, do I have a lot to say on this topic. Class themes and design are one of my favorite parts of any RPG, be it tabletop or video game, and having spent a lot of time in the Warcraft franchise across several games and books, I’ve got some…rather strong opinions on class lore.
To keep this short enough that it’s still an enjoyable read, I’m going to limit myself on the classes I talk about to the two classes I know the best: the mage, and the shaman.
We’ll break down our discussion into covering the below points for each class
1. Overall Class thematic design
2. The Class Campaign
3. The original, pre-7.2 Class Champions
4. The new class champion(s) in 7.2, as well as the quests to acquire them
5. The Class Mount and the quests to acquire it
Are we ready? Let’s DO THIS.
- Class Design
I’ve played a mage since Vanilla, with some occasional dalliances into other classes. I’ve also played a spellcaster, usually a sorcerer, in practically every game of Dungeons and Dragons I’ve ever been in. And one thing I always lament on the mage is their elemental-based design. WoW Mages are split along the lines of the elements they use for their spells, and I think that is, and continues to be, a mistake. D&D Wizards and Sorcerers are almost never so limited, they try as much as possible to prepare/learn a wide variety of spells to be ready for any situation. That includes having multiple elements to draw from in the event you encounter a foe resistant or immune to one of them. It also includes having a crazy huge variety of utility spells for non-battle situations. A Wizard in D&D might specialize in a school of magic, but it’s something much broader like Abjuration, Evocation, Illusion, or Transmutation. You get the idea. I was hoping that in Legion, mages would finally move away from their element-based distinctions and become the ultimate utilitarians we should be, but alas, this did not happen and we’re stuck with the same design we have now, something most of the major mage lore figures don’t seem to be constrained by, which sucks.
- The Class Campaign
I mean, if we’re really honest here, the real mage order we all know and love is the Kirin Tor, but I suppose it was too much to hope that they’d put us in charge of what is essentially an entire nation of people, and a human one at that. Doubt they’d be keen on the idea of a troll running things for example. And the Council of Tirisfal wouldn’t be a good idea either, because then we’d end up becoming the Guardian, and that’s probably a bit overpowered. So yes, the Tirisgarde as a Class Order works. And the campaign itself is perfectly serviceable, revolving around the dreadlord Kath’ranatir, who has been a major opponent for mages, mostly in the tie-in comics. I found myself enjoying it overall, except when Milhouse Manastorm was involved, but we’ll get there
- The original Class Champions
Do you guys remember the preview of the class champions we originally got? The mage one was awful. It included a bunch of no-name NPCs like Akazamzarak and some Ogre from Ogri’la in BC. I was furious. The preview had every class getting a bunch of recognizable names and this was what Mages got? Thankfully Blizzard went back on this and gave us some quite good followers, including three members of the Council of Six that lead the Kirin Tor: Kalecgos, Modera, and Vargoth. As Meryl Felstorm is the one who sets up the whole ordeal, including him as a champion makes perfect sense as well, plus it’s nice to get a lot of his story in game finally. Esara Verrinde kind of comes out of nowhere, but they give us enough of her backstory to make her impressive. Ravandwyr seemed like an odd choice as well, but given that Archmage Vargoth is built up as the supposed “villain” of the campaign, it makes sense to include him as well. Speaking of Vargoth, if you bring him along as your bodyguard, you can periodically summon him for a 50% damage buff, but upon being summoned, he class out “Over here, idiot!”. That right there was enough for me to deactivate him. Your arrogant ass better learn some humility REAL FAST considering I saved you from being possessed by a demon, you piece of garbage! Sigh. Finally, we have the Arcane Destroyer, which is a cool enough idea for a champion, I suppose, and Milhouse Manastorm. Sigh. Okay, yes I get it. He’s been around since BC, and he’s funny because he’s got an over inflated opinion of himself. He’s been a good guy in BC, evil in Cataclysm, seeking redemption during Warlords, and now in Legion he’s….quite clearly out to steal powerful artifacts for whatever reason. And he throws a hissy fit when you don’t give him one. Yeah I deactivated him for sure. Screw that guy.
So who would have been some better choices? As I mentioned the only follower I honestly don’t like is Milhouse. Vargoth is perfectly fine until Blizzard wrote a stupid line for him when summoned. Originally I mentioned I would have liked to see Aethas Sunreaver get a redemption story, but that happened later in 7.2. Khadgar was never going to be a follower of ours, he’s too important to Legion’s overall plotline. Perhaps the other two members of the Council of Six, Ansirem Runeweaver and Karlain, might have been interesting considering we know very little about them. And there’s the obvious major mage character, but clearly Blizzard has other plans for Jaina Proudmoore. I just hope they aren’t stupid ones like turning her into a villain. She’s been wasted as a character since Cataclysm, and that would be the worst ending for her.
- The New Class Champions
Mages actually got two new champions in 7.2: Aethas Sunreaver and the Great Akazamzarak. Aethas gets his redemption story that’s been set up since Mists of Pandaria, and Akazamzarak comes to us in a fun little story that has us jumping inside his magic hat. Perfectly fine choices. I keep Akazamzarak around as my bodyguard for the “Prepare to eat fluffy, cotton-tailed death” line alone. Makes me laugh every time.
- The Class Mount
Sorry, but the little Fidget Spinner is freaking lame as hell, and the quest to get it is a giant wasted opportunity. It’s set up as a powerful artifact that you have to investigate, research, and ultimately complete, and all three elements feel hollow. You’re practically given the pieces, you’re told how to stabilize it by other people, and ultimately you don’t do anything with it but ride it around. It would be cool if the disc was at least all three colors, one in each third, symbolizing your mastery of the three different “schools” but no, it’s all the color of your current spec. The only good thing I can say about this whole ordeal was that the fights against the elementals were at least somewhat interesting, but that’s not enough to overcome the rest of the awful that is this whole quest. Thumbs firmly down.
- Class Design
I don’t really have any complaints here. Like the Mage, the shaman should be using all of the elements to battle their foes, and unlike the Mage, they do this pretty well. My only issue is that the element of water is pretty restricted to just healing. I’d like to see a little bit of offensive water use (does Frost Shock count? Is that technically a water spell?) but that’s overall minor. Every spec does specialize, it seems, in a particular element, but there’s no exclusivity like their is with the mage. I would be quite happy seeing the addition of a tank spec to shamans, and renaming each spec along elemental lines (Earth Shamans are the new tank, Elemental becomes Fire since their main attacks all revolve around fire, Enhancement would become air thanks to the focus on Windfury and Doom Winds, and Resto becomes Water because duh) as long as it’s obvious that it’s a specialization, and the other elements are still utilized by the shaman despite their spec.
- The Class Campaign
Here’s where the shaman goes off the rails for me. Ya’ll remember Lord of the Clans? That’s the book that gave us Thrall’s story and set up how Shamanism works in Warcraft. Shaman are able to hear the spirits of the elements and respectfully work with them to power their magic. The problem is, Blizzard has essentially all but ignored that story since. There’s been no distinction between the elemental spirits and the elementals, who are established to be ambivalent to mortals at best. Consequently, we get a storyline reolving around the shaman of the Earthen Ring essentially playing lackeys to the new Elemental Lords that replaced the ones we’ve killed, or the old ones who seem less interested in killing us. It does not feel good, in the least. I would have used this time to delve into the nature of the elemental spirits and how a shaman works with them to bring balance to the world, and ultimately bringing this balance to the Elemental Lords themselves, so that we aren’t forced to play their lackey, but ultimately show them a better way to exist, in harmony not only with each other but with Azeroth herself. In doing so we not only bring the final healing to the world from the Cataclysm, but we accomplish something no other Shaman before us has done, proving that we deserve the title “Farseer”, and giving us a truly great weapon against the Legion.
- The Original Class Champions
Shamans are split in this category. Half are well known Shaman characters (Muln Earthfury, Stormcaller Mylra, Farseer Nobundo, and Rehgar Earthfury) and the remaining half are elementals from each of the four elements we work with. Okay enough I guess. I’m not a fan of the elementals for the reasons I mentioned above, plus I would rather have some additional cool shaman NPCs as followers, like Earthmender Norsala, Gavan Greyfeather, or even AGGRA. But the elementals would make a perfectly fine addition in light of the changes to the story I outlined above.
- The New Class Champions
What. Are you freaking kidding me. Out of every possible follower you could give us, you send Magatha-fucking-GRIMTOTEM at us? No character development, no repentance or comeuppance for her actions in KILLING Cairne Bloodhoof, just “oh she’s more dangerous on her own than here where we can keep an eye on her”.
No. Absolutely not. You know where she’s LEAST dangerous? In the ground. I was so freaking mad having to keep her around. Such a giant waste. And as Adam Blampied of Whatculture is so fond of saying…..I can do it better.
So while all of the above suggestions I made in Point 3 would be better options for our new champion than this evil tauren bitch, there’s one very famous shaman that has been absent since the beginning of Legion. So we get back to our order hall from the Broken Shore, and who is waiting for us but the former Warchief of the Horde, the man once known as the World-Shaman, Thrall himself. He’s been on a journey of redemption, humbling himself before the elements all around the world, being a student all over again, and he’s come seeking our help because he’s found something that we couldn’t have because we’ve been focused on the Legion and the Broken Isles. Someone has united the remnants of Garrosh Hellscream’s Dark Shaman and is using them to build an army of twisted elementals for their own end. You travel to the location with Thrall, fight your way through the Dark Shaman, and find out the person responsible: Magatha Grimtotem. Because Baine depowered her when he took back Thunder Bluff, remember? Cause Blizzard seems to have forgotten.
So now she’s building up a new power base to take over the Horde and throw the Legion off her world, manipulating Garrosh’s old followers, and so on. You and Thrall fight your way to her, and along the way the elements start returning to Thrall. He begins to understand the lesson they want to teach him about Balance. He was out of balance when he used the elements to kill Garrosh, full of anger and rage, but this battle is different, he’s trying to save the elements from torture and corruption. And in the end, you avenge Cairne, save the elementals who were corrupted, and end the threat of the Grimtotem and the Dark Shaman once and for all. Thrall walks out of the fight perhaps not quite as powerful as he used to be, but with a good measure restored. He thanks you and joins you as your champion, recognizing that he still has much to continue learning from you.
So now you have friggin THRALL as your potential bodyguard, plus we wrap up his redemption story, get to see some great interaction between him and Aggra in the Maelstrom, and maybe some dialogue that hints that perhaps Vol’jin had been deceived about Sylvanas and questioning if the time for him to retake the mantle of Warchief has returned.
So how’s that for a better version of the 7.2 follower?
- The Class Mount
Okay, yes, it’s pretty. I love it a lot. But *yawn* where that quest is concerned. Playing lackey to the new air lord. Woooo. Just boring.