Category: Mounts

(A shorter version of this post appeared in the comments section of WoWinsider’s article ‘Warlords of Draenor: Gameplanet Interviews Alex Afrasiabi’ on 9th March 2014.)

In a recent interview with gaming news web site Gameplanet, Blizzard Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi slipped in a little morsel about the contentious issue of flying in WoW. For some time I’ve been reading the arguments for and against flying in the game and Blizzard themselves have apparently spoken of regret about its inclusion in the first place. The main arguments against flying mounts concern the world being made ‘smaller’ or players not being so immersed in the detailed landscapes Blizzard have created. Some anti-flying players even go so far as to say flying mounts trivialize the game, making it too easy to avoid hazards on the ground, such as mobs you might have to fight through to get to a destination. The pro-flying brigade has its own arguments, of course. I’m among the latter and will give some of my reasons below. Speaking of flight restrictions in the game, (areas such as Isle of Thunder and Timeless Isle), Afrasiabi’s words were “I feel like we can learn from this, in that is there a world where we have no flying, but people love it? You know? Is it a possibility? I think it is.” I’m not sure if what he said came out exactly as he intended – he did *appear* to imply Blizzard are thinking of a world entirely without flying, or perhaps he just meant Draenor – but there are lots of reasons many players would be unhappy with such a decision.

First, (but not necessarily the most important), people have paid real money to buy flying mounts from the Blizzard store. If flying was removed from the game entirely, which I sincerely hope was not the implication in Afrasiabi’s words, would those mounts disappear from players’ mount collections or just still be there as ground mounts – in some cases immense, awkward and totally inappropriate for ground travel? Anyone who’s tried to ride Heart of the Aspects or the Iron Skyreaver on the floor must surely agree they are not the most… er… elegant of ground mounts. No one in their right mind would use them for anything other than flying. That’s what they’re designed for, as are many other mounts in the game. I think it’s highly unlikely Blizzard would refund disgruntled players who’d bought flying mounts from the store if they were suddenly grounded or – worse – removed from or made inactive in the mount journal.

It can’t be denied or ignored that a lot of people really love their mount collections. I assume the alleged 50% who are eager to see flying go don’t care about collecting mounts, so their removal or greater restriction wouldn’t affect them one bit. And as is often the case with some, usually vocal, WoW players, if they’re not into something, they have no consideration whatsoever for those who are. If a player doesn’t like flying, they’re not forced to do it. They can still potter along on the ground if that’s their wish – so they shouldn’t try to impose their preferences on others. I know I’d be far from alone in being gutted if I lost all the beautiful flying mounts I’ve spent so long farming for, or had them reduced to wing-clipped, lumbering-about-on-the-ground travesties. If flying went, it would please those players who want to go back in time to when travel was tiresomely lengthy, but it would infuriate all those who think flying is one of the best additions the game ever had.

I find it hard to believe that players are split right down the middle on this issue. Just among my friends in WoW alone I know it’s more like two thirds enjoy collecting mounts – especially flying ones – and a third aren’t that bothered about them. And of that last third, I can’t think of one who’s said they want flying totally removed. Players still flock to kill Huolon on the Timeless Isle, more so than the other rare mobs over there, and that’s not just for the skinning potential, is it? No, it’s for the Thundering Onyx Cloud Serpent he might drop.

Once players have been given something they like, it hurts to have it taken away. Mass summoning springs to mind; our guild misses that a lot and we still grumble about it as we’re trying to congregate somewhere quickly. But that pales in comparison to the issue of flying mounts. As many players have said, if we’d never had flying, or the awesome mounts that came with it, we wouldn’t miss it. But we *have* had the convenience, and the sheer buzz of taking to the air. We *have* had the awesome mounts. We’ve had the showy phoenix of ‘Ashes of Alar’, we’ve had a host of different types of beautiful dragons, we’ve had gryphons, and hippogryphs and sinuous cloud serpents. Taking all those away would be a huge and controversial step by Blizzard. I imagine it would cause uproar and subs would take a damaging hit.

Another thing to consider is that not everyone wants it to take five times as long or more to get to a destination. Flight path taxis can take you all over the place on the ‘scenic route’, or they might not drop you really close to where you want to be. I’m sure a lot of people log on sometimes just to do a short stint of archaeology or to farm mats for their professions. Flying certainly helps to get the best of your time with that. And whether the purist players agree with me or not, I don’t want to go back to having to hack my way through lots of annoying little mobs to get to a mining node or an archaeology site.

Flying is fun for a huge part of the player base. Pretty much everyone will agree that it’s fine to restrict flying while leveling so you’re more immersed in the landscape that first time through it. I had no objection to that in any of the expansions that included such a restriction. But I do want to fly when I hit top level. I want to admire the mounts I’ve collected and enjoy riding them. And again, as many have and will say, the leveling content gets pretty exhausted in the fun department when you’re doing it on your fourth alt and beyond. It’s not unusual nowadays for people to have more than one account with a bunch of alts at top level. I can’t help thinking that Blizzard are just being stubborn forcing players to go through a whole expansion again and again without the convenience of flying. Once, yes, twice or maybe even three times… but after that, it’s just tedious.

Ultimately, I’m rather gob-smacked about what Afrasiabi said. If Blizzard are so against flying, why are flying mounts almost exclusively the prestigious rewards for completing difficult game content? Why do so many tricky raid bosses have flying mounts in their loot table? Why are flying mounts even on sale in the store if Blizzard are hoping to discourage their use?

Never mind the players, I have a feeling this argument might have been going on for some time between the developers, and maybe *they* are split right down the middle about it. But even so, ‘Mists of Pandaria’ was chock full of new flying mounts – fabulous ones at that – and we had quite a few new ones in the Blizzard store during this expansion, not to mention the fact that the Collector’s Edition of ’Warlords of Draenor’ will include a flying mount. This doesn’t make any sense to me. If Blizzard are so against flying, why do they keep feeding our addiction? If that’s simply to take it away, I’d really have to think seriously about whether I’d continue to play. Mount collecting is one of my favourite things in the game, and I’d feel devalued as a customer, if not betrayed, if that enjoyment was axed simply to please those who dislike flying or to force me to have a worm’s eye view of the world every minute I’m playing. We should all have the choice to play how we want to play. We pay for that privilege, don’t we? Blizzard do so much to improve the game and provide more and more content, which has resulted in a rich and complex world, and with many more players having access to a greater amount of content. I simply can’t see why they’d want to take this backward step and rile up a lot of their customers in the process.

I’m trying to convince myself that Afrasiabi just worded it a bit wrong in that interview. I hope he simply meant flying will be restricted until top level in the new expansion, and all of our alts will have to wait until then too. At worst, perhaps he was telling us in a roundabout way that Blizzard are still considering whether flying will ever be allowed on Draenor, even though previously we’ve been advised it will be reintroduced with patch 6.1. The idea of it being removed altogether is pretty much unthinkable when you consider all the points I’ve explored above. Whatever the outcome, while I’d prefer something similar to how it was in Wrath for alts’ to obtain flying, I’d rather wait to get it on every single one of my alts than see it go altogether.

Let’s forget about raiding and LFR, and dailies and all that. Let’s think instead of one of the things patch 5.3 has to offer – a new mount collecting achievement. 200. Yeah, let’s talk mounts!

I’m really glad this achievement has been brought in, or will be. I’m a mount whore. I love them. I have 187 of the things. I won’t be able to get the new achievement straight away as I did with the 150 mount achievement, and that makes it better, I think. It’s something to work for. I have all the easily acquired mounts in the game so far; now a bit of work and luck will be needed. The reward mounts for Horde and Alliance will be new, improved dragonhawks. I have always liked these mounts, although they are a bit… flappy. Still, they beat the kites that were the reward for the last achievement.

An addon I find useful is CollectMe, which tells you which mounts (and companion pets too, if you collect them), you are lacking and where to find them.

One thing to bear in mind if you are striving for this achievement is that if you have a Paladin in your stable of alts (or have one as your main), you will be 3 mounts ahead of every other class. This is because Pallies have the two class mounts they get at level 20 and 40, and there is also a class mount to be acquired up at the Argent Tournament, that old Wrath daily hub in Icecrown. Warlocks get an advantage of 2 extra mounts to start off with. So if you have either of these classes you get a small headstart above others. When your Pally or Lock hits the 200 mark, log them on, and all your other characters will get the achievement reward mount too.

I found it strange that profession mounts, such as those gained through Tailoring and Engineering, count towards the whole on every alt you have, even if they can’t use them. But class mounts apply to the tally only for the individual classes who can actually ride them. There is a chance, I suppose, that Blizzard might notice this, and amend the situation. Let’s hope not.

I really thought I’d seen the last of Argent Tournament, and have no pressing desire to start doing those dailies again, but there are 3 mounts up there I haven’t got. Happily, I can use a Horde character to get one of them, which applies to both factions, (and he already had 40 Champion Seals on him, yay), but the other two will have to be ground for by two of my Alliance characters. Argent Tournament, despite the boredom factor of earning the currency to buy the mounts, really does offer a lot. I think, roughly, you can get around 20 mounts up there, certainly one extra if you have a Paladin character. One thing that is good about doing these dailies again as a level 90 is that the jousting is so much easier. I always hated those quests, and could never manage the Commanders down near Icecrown Citadel. Now they barely touch me and are easy to kill. Those gargoyles in the air spitting electricity always miss, so never remove my shields. So anyone dreading that part no longer has to. The rest of the dailies take no time at all either. I’ve got 3 characters grinding for the 3 mounts, and will not be doing the dailies every day, just when I have the time or inclination, but will slowly whittle away at it.

With my main character, I’ve gone back to farming Stonecore, Vortex Pinnacle (5 man dungeons from Cataclysm), Attumen, the first boss of Karazhan, and Onyxia, in an attempt to add another 4 mounts to my stable. Kara and Onyxia’s Lair can be completed by multiple alts once a week, although Kara is far easier to solo than Ony. Depends on class, I guess. My main Hunter is iLevel 499 and Ony is easy for him. The swarm of adds might be a problem for some classes. I’ve yet to try the 5 man Zul’Gurub recently with my Hunter, for the red raptor and the black panther mounts. Last time I tried solo it didn’t go too well, to put it mildly, but he’s probably risen at least 20 iLevel points since I last tried.

A guaranteed mount that does not involve any RNG is the Bone White Raptor from the Isle of Giants. The downside is you need 9999 dinosaur bones to buy it. But while you’re farming the dinos to get those, there’s a strong chance you’ll get at least one of the 3 different Primal Eggs that will hatch into other raptor mounts. If you don’t get one while farming 9999 bones, I think you can accept your luck is beyond abysmal and don’t ever bother going for RNG mounts again.

It’s not that daunting to get to 200 mounts, but the downside is that if you haven’t been collecting the more expensive ones along the way, supposing you’ve played WoW for years, the price of some of them will be prohibitive. I have noticed – and taken advantage of – the fact that the Onyx Jewelled Panther is on sale in Auction House for a fraction of the price it costs to make. I suspect there’s some shenanigans going on here, because it seems distinctly odd that a mount that costs a Jewelcrafter nearly 80K gold to make is on sale for between 40-50K gold. I bought one for 40K, shut my eyes, clicked the buyout price, and hoped it wasn’t too dodgy and didn’t involve anyone’s account being hacked. I’ve read on one forum about nebulous speculation that some players have mysteriously learned how to clone such mounts, but whether this is true or not, I have no idea. Still, the fact these cheap panthers have remained on sale in our server’s AH for the past few months doesn’t indicate Blizzard sees some infringement going on.

One thing that you could bear in mind if you’re suffering with gold reserves: the TCG companion pet loot cards from the last half dozen expansion sets or so can be acquired for a few dollars on Ebay. These pets can sell on the Auction House for anywhere between 10 – 50K gold. Sales such as this enabled me to buy a few expensive mounts. I always buy the TCG pets for my own collection as they’re so cheap, so just buy one extra to help with my mount fund. (Incidentally, you can help out the excellent site by preordering TCG pets through them. They get a cut, they do an excellent job with their splendiferous site, so worth supporting!)

I might as well talk about TCG mounts too, as we’re on the subject. Some are risibly expensive, such as the Spectral Tiger ($500 or more). Forget those. But others aren’t that much more than mounts you can buy from the Blizzard store. I keep an eye on the prices and have bought a few when the prices have sunk; they always seem to, if you’re patient. Depends on whether you’re prepared to shell out real money for pixel mounts. Mounts such as the Mottled Drake and the Corrupted Hippogryph were once really expensive. Now you can find bargains. The new mounts, the Fel Drake and the Ghostly Charger are still up in the $200-300 range. Hang fire. Wait. Sometimes a strange dip occurs and you can pick up a bargain. I was rather annoyed today to find that the Mottled Drake is a lot cheaper now than it was when I acquired it as a birthday present well over a year ago. But then next week, its price might have soared again. There is no way of predicting, other than watching and waiting.

In addition to the dungeon RNG drop mounts, there are plenty to be found in raids prior to MoP, and also as rewards for completing meta achievements for dungeons or raids. Can’t find any friends to help? Join up with the OpenRaid community to find runs across realms to help you get what you’re after.

Anyway, lots of ways to get mounts towards your achievement. I’d say, if you’re going to shell out real money, or even a lot of gold on the AH, make sure you only buy ones you’ll enjoy and use a lot. There are more than enough in the game to acquire through other means.

Good luck with the hunting!

If you saw an advert in your local paper saying ‘free Ferrari to whoever can get to this map reference first’ you’d expect a mass of people descending in that map point and many arguments to ensue.
Rare mounts are the sports cars of WoW. Let’s get that said first.

Secondly, we shall say Zandalari Warbringers.

All the good work Blizzard has done on the Isle of Thunder has been pretty much invalidated by the bloody warfare engendered by the Zandalari Warbringers. For the uninitiated, these difficult elite mobs spawn all around Pandaria all the time, and if you fight and kill them, there is a 1 in a 100 chance of them dropping a much desired sports car, sorry dinosaur mount.

While Blizzard has done a lot of work to lessen player hostility, it somehow forgot all that with the Warbringers. They are not tag to faction. They can only be tagged by one person or group and – huzzah- that tag can easily be stolen. The fact these mobs drop a mount has, as usual, brought out the worst in greedy players.

The horror stories you’ll read on forums are too many to mention, but just a few… Large guilds will place 5 players on each spawn point in every zone of Pandaria. Their warlocks and mages will be spamming AOE spells to guarantee their group gets the tag when the Warbringer spawns. This is wearisome. It’s constant. If you should be lucky enough to get a tag, you will see a lot of other players around you waiting for you to fail. If you don’t have friends along, for most classes these elites are fatal. The minute you fall, after perhaps 20 minutes of hard work, another player, usually with friends, will gleefully hop in and take over your fight.

Because mounts are involved people will not share. It’s amazing how these bunches of pixels can turn people into monsters, but they do. Only the other night, a guild mate and I were at a spawn point and saw a mage struggling badly with a Warbringer. I whispered them to say we’d be happy to help if we could all roll fairly on the mount should it drop. No answer. Not even a ‘no thanks’. Stupidly, I even killed all the wildlife in the area around the elite to make things easier for the mage, as there were grubs and deer all over him. Moments later, guild mates of the mage turned up to aid him and the mob was dead. But not even a thank you or an acknowledgement. I’m absolutely sure if it had been the other way around, that player would not have offered to help us. I also read a thread on a forum where a player spoke to a group of campers, asking to join in, and was told ‘sod off, we all want *all* three colours of the mount and we’re going to get them.’ Sadly they probably will.

All of this stinks highly. If Blizzard is intelligent enough to emulate the GW2 model of anyone involved significantly in a fight to get loot, why not extend this to the Warbringers? While we see community improve 10 fold on the Isle of Thunder, it is still being destroyed by the greed of players over mounts concerning the Warbringers. It really is ridiculously simple. Even the most disgusting player will be turned into part of the community if their reason to be hostile and greedy is removed. I see it every day on the Isle of Thunder. Rather than players shoving others aside or worse, they are calling out map co-ordinates, because other players will only help them, not hinder. I hope Blizzard reads blogs like this and sees what I’m saying. It is the simple truth.