Tag Archive: mounts


No one who pays any attention to community forums in WoW could have failed to notice the hue and cry over the fact that Blizzard saw fit to plonk a new mount on the game store yesterday, right after it was announced that subs had dipped by 3 million. Many have seen this move as a cold-hearted effort by the company to claw in some dosh in the face of lost subs. I personally don’t think this is the case, since the mount itself – the Mystic Runesaber – was datamined as long ago as the last patch. It was always destined to be a store mount – simply by the look of it (and that’s another matter) – so *when* it appeared is irrelevant in a way, although it could be said that Blizzard committed a faux pas by releasing it *this* week. Still, if it was a week before or after, or even months, a lot of people would still have shouted that this was a callous attempt to milk money from the remaining player base.

I’m lucky – or some might say stupid – in that I can afford to buy the store mounts when they appear, 2 or 3 times a year. There’s no doubt that these mounts are far flashier than most that appear in the game, and those who can’t afford to buy them for real money have a legitimate reason to be annoyed, or at least disappointed, about that. The new mounts put into WoD itself are pretty poor, aside from the Poundfist (gronnling) and Rukhmar (golden dread raven) drops, which are both very rare. As many have said, why couldn’t store only mounts like the Grinning Reaver and the Iron Skyreaver have been put into the game as rewards for getting exalted with one faction or another? The mounts you currently get for such endeavours are too boring to bother grinding for. There is a precedent for cool mounts in game in the Nether Drakes of Burning Crusade, and the Flameward Hippogryph of Cataclysm. Both required lengthy quest chains and dailies to acquire, but I don’t remember a massive amount of moaning about that.

I have no problem with store mounts in principle, but it’s not good when new mounts provided in the game are so woefully inferior. I’ve often winced at the big, bulky ground mounts, such as yaks, which just scuttle along like poodles. I never ride the ones I bought because of that. The Core Hound was great in that it had a long, slower, but ground-covering stride – exactly how an elekk or yak should move. But the new boars have the undignified scuttle that spoiled many other mounts, including the camels – who should also have had a long, loping gait. In the face of a dearth of content at present, would it really have hurt Blizzard to have put a mount of the Runesaber’s calibre into the game itself – attained through a lengthy quest chain, or a slew of dailies… or something? It would have given bored players something sparkly and desirable to work for. Admittedly, the Blizzard shareholders want their dosh, and store mounts are always a golden goose for the company. However, as a business person myself, in Blizzard’s position, I would have considered providing two distinctly different colours or variations of the Runesaber – one for purchase, one for earning in game. Those with the money and the desire would most likely have bought the store mount anyway, as well as gone for the different coloured one in game. It would have been a win win situation really – those who won’t or can’t buy the store mounts would have been given a pacifier and maybe – just maybe – there would have been less ranting and dissatisfaction.

Sometimes, I’m baffled by Blizzard’s decisions. To my mind, it’s best to keep as many of your customers as happy as you can, even though it’s impossible to please everyone. I wouldn’t continue to rile customers up so much, when obvious solutions are so visible. (Well, I wouldn’t upset customers to that extent in the first place, but then I’m a *small* business, so all my customers are valuable to me.) Certain things get WoW players up in arms, and glossy store mounts is one of those things. Other things, such as changes to classes or talents, are another matter – they have grey areas – but store items are pretty black and white. The fact that Blizzard charge an awful lot for these items is also galling. I can’t help thinking that if they were more generous about the whole issue, making the store mounts cheaper, as well as offering a different but equally attractive alternative in game, it would pour a whole tanker-full of spilled oil onto troubled waters. Those who can’t afford game store mounts, or won’t buy them on principle, would still feel valued as customers, because they could work for an alternative in game. Those who don’t feel that way would buy the new mount as they always do. Mount collectors and fanatics go for all variations of a mount. I know: I’m one of them. Those who would like to buy store mounts but regard them as too expensive would most likely feel the cost was justified – and affordable – if it was £10 or so less. (These mounts are just pixels, they don’t cost much per unit to generate, if anything, beyond the initial design cost.) At a cheaper, fairer price, more store mounts would be bought, more players would find less reason to complain. Why is this such a difficult concept for Blizzard to get their heads round?

I know WoW players can exhibit a ridiculous amount of entitlement, and complain about anything, but sometimes their frustration is justified. I play other MMOs that have game stores, and their prices are far cheaper than Blizzard’s. The sad fact is that it all comes across as Blizzard having contempt for their customers. There is never any generosity. I remember one festival time in Rift – I think it was Yule – when, after an inworld ‘warning’ to alert the players, GMs spontaneously appeared in major cities on all the different servers and literally threw loot pinatas into the air for 10 minutes. Items would just appear in your inventory. People got all sorts of loot, and no one went away empty-handed. Free gifts from Trion, the developers. People were happy and excited. GMs were there among them, their characters visible to everyone, and everyone felt part of something, and valued. It was a small gesture but extremely effective. I could never see Blizzard doing anything like that. OK, their game is far bigger than Rift, and has hundreds more servers across the world, but even so… there are a host of other things they could do if they got their creative heads together and thought about it. Happy customers, who feel valued, are the most important thing to any business, and customers who feel valued will inevitably be less inclined to complain, or indeed abandon the product. Changes Blizzard have to make to the game sometimes will always cause upset, ranting and peevishness. But store items shouldn’t come into that, because ultimately they are not an important part of the game. They might be important in a monetary sense to the company, but they could have their cake and eat it, if they were more accommodating.

I’ve written this piece from the viewpoint of someone who can afford the store mounts and doesn’t object to buying them – but who also sees the downside and unfairness of them. WoW players pay a sub, not like in the free to play games that rely on game stores to exist, so why in WoW should the most shiny things be game store only? I actually felt somewhat nervous getting my new Runesaber out in game last night. I knew that some players I might pass by in Draenor would in some way see my purchase as traitorous, encouraging Blizzard’s meanness and greed, perhaps even to the extent of spitting on my character. It happened with the first store mount, the sparkle pony, which was – and still is – a great mount, but the shine of owning and riding it was diminished by the anger of players that it was a store only item. Some people were kicked from raid groups for wearing the risibly over-priced store helms that came out some time ago. It’s not just because of envy – although that must inevitably play a part – but I think it’s more down to the fact that players feel cheated, or taken for fools. Why pay £10 for a cosmetic helm, when in other games, they cost pence? I worked out that a full transmog set in Rift, including all gear slots, came out at 38 pence per item. £10 for one item? Oh, that’s simply greedy! And players see that, and conclude Blizzard must just think they’re stupid. Game stores obviously can work, but items within them should be balanced with items in game, at least in a sub game.

WoW is the biggest and most successful of MMOs – at least in the West, I can’t speak for the Far East – but the way Blizzard often behave simply comes across as them feeling unassailable, all-powerful, and having a streak of arrogance because of that. My opinion might be completely wrong, but what Blizzard spokespeople say in the face of fierce criticism rarely gives any other perspective.

So, last night, I took my new mount – which flies – out on my Horde DK, who’s only level 78, and flew around Northrend. It’s a beautiful mount, a purple glowing cat, armoured, and with spectral wings, although you’ll only see the best of it in expansions of the game earlier than WoD. I wrote my previous blog post about flying, or lack of in WoD, so I won’t go into that again, but even as I was flying around, admiring my Runesaber, I couldn’t help feeling that it should have been a game reward, not just something you slap on a credit card. How much more sense of accomplishment would I have felt if I’d known I’d just completed a long and difficult quest chain to acquire it?

My last two blog posts have been centred around aspects with which I’m dissatisfied, but I do still love the game and enjoy my time in its virtual world. I don’t want to be a constant moaner, but sometimes you have to let off steam. My next post will have a more positive tone!

(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 warcraftpets.com 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!

Come patch 5.1 there will be a new mount achievement to obtain 150 mounts. For most mount fanatics, their collection, (even if they’re not particularly hardcore at it), will probably be hovering around 160 mounts already, assuming they’ve bought some of the MoP ones. The really serious collectors will no doubt not be far off the 200 mark, but they are the minority, albeit comprising a fair few players.

I’ve read a lot of lamentation on forums about the reward for 150 mounts, which appears to be a Pandaren Kite. I believe it’s the green Kite that some NPCs you rescue during Shado Pan dailies ride off on. I must admit, although I do think the colour of that kite (if indeed it is that) is rather nice, I’m a bit disappointed this is the reward for collecting 150 mounts.

A lot of people aren’t that impressed with the Albino Drake reward for collecting 50 mounts, which first appeared way back at the end of Burning Crusade when achievements were initially introduced. Maybe it is a bit ‘meh’ to people now, but you have to bear in mind that when that achievement appeared there were NO drake mounts in the game at all, just the Nether Drakes, which are utterly different. To be able to ride a mount that was of a model only lent to us in the Caverns of Time Durnholde Keep instance seemed amazing at the time. I can remember us doing that instance and people saying, as we rode our Bronze Drake NPCs to the start of battle, ‘wouldn’t it be fab to have these as mounts?’ We got our wish later on with the Culling of Stratholme instance, where that mount could be won on a timed run, but before that… it seemed like an impossible dream. Few serious mount freaks would be seen dead on a Bronze Drake mount now, they have become so common, but the idea of getting one at the start of Wrath seemed fantastic. So, point number one: whatever later achievement-gatherers might think of the Albino Drake now, back when it was first introduced, it was pretty special.

Wrath also introduced the 100 mount achievement, which to start with was punishing, since you’d need rare drop mounts, expensive mounts and possibly TCG ones to hit that figure. As Wrath progressed, and especially with the introduction of the Argent Tournament and its mount piñata, that figure became more easily attainable. The reward for it was a Dragonhawk, red for Horde, blue for Alliance. Initially, there were no Dragonhawk mounts in the game, apart from a few taxis you could take. When I finally got mine on my Alliance Druid, I thought it was a fantastic mount. There was no other like it. Eventually, when I levelled my Horde characters, I got my main Hordie the even better black/red Dragonhawk from Argent Tournament dailies. When mounts and their associated achievements became account wide, all my Hordies found they had a nice red Dragonhawk too, (thanks to Alliance characters and their mount collecting), as well as every one of them being able to use the AT Dragonhawk. But again, when the 100 achievement first appeared, the mounts associated with it were different from all others and could be considered special.

So, the Kite. You can get one as a reward by raising all Mists factions to exalted, and to be honest I haven’t really read anything about players being enormously excited about Kites.  They’re ok as taxis, but I’m not into them myself. I think if my characters could sit on them they would be better. I have the same beef with flying carpets. I find that standing on this type of mount in a surfing pose just looks ridiculous. So I agree with all those who are QQing a bit about the 150 mount reward – if indeed it does prove to be the Kite, although from what I’ve read it’s almost certainly that, well at least it’s that on the PTR. Maybe it’s not such a milestone mount because so many will just log on the day after the patch and get that achievement immediately. But for those players who’ve only recently managed to get 100 mounts, (or not even that yet), perhaps the idea of getting another 50 is somewhat more daunting than it is to those of us who’ve been mount freaks for years and have already got over 150. I personally think all achievement mounts should be special to start with. OK, we have tons more Drakes in the game now, and several Dragonhawks, if you include the TCG one, but the fact remains at the time of their appearance they were fairly unusual. I don’t find Kites that unusual or exciting, and it appears a lot of other players feel the same, although of course there are going to be others who think they’re great. It’s just down to personal opinion again.

I also think it’s odd Blizzard haven’t put in a 200 mount achievement yet, since for the serious mount collector this would be something to strive for, as we strove for the 100 mount one back in the day. The fact is, it’s not difficult to get 150 mounts now, if you’re prepared to grind faction rep and shell out for the mounts at exalted. Admittedly, if you were starting from scratch this would make a massive dent in your gold reserves, or would require a lot of saving up. I do know that a couple of people in our guild, who aren’t that serious about mounts, but have pottered about getting them casually over the years, already have well over 100 and won’t find it that difficult to hit 150 for the next achievement. So to me a 200 mount achievement would have been good to include in the patch too. When new pet collecting achievements came out some time ago, Blizzard added a couple at once.

As to what would have made a nice 150 mount reward, I’ve read some interesting suggestions. An Infinite Drake – yes, I’ve always wistfully thought of having one of those. A recoloured Heavenly or Thundering Cloud Serpent – again, good suggestions, don’t think anyone would complain about that, even though we already have a few Cloud Serpents to collect. Cloud Serpents have certainly been a big hit with our guild, with some saying they are the best flying mounts ever introduced. But how about something that’s not yet a mount we can acquire? My personal vote would be for the Arcane Wyrms/Serpents in Coldarra of Northrend, who fly around outside the Nexus/Oculus/Eye of Eternity structure. Every time we go over on a Friday to have a go at Malygos I think how fabulous it would be to have one of those Wyrms as a mount. Missed opportunity there, I say. They’re not that different in shape to the Cloud Serpents so surely wouldn’t be that hard to turn into mounts. There are other flying beasts in Northrend who have never been utilised as mounts, such as the Ember Wyrm and a certain type of Frost Wyrm, but perhaps these are a bit old hat, so not really suitable for the Pandaria era. I don’t think the Arcane Wyrms fall into the same category, but I admit to being biased. If we want to think really bizarre, how about a Fel Reaver mount, which can also liftoff vertically and become a flying mount? That would be pretty awesome.

Something else about Arcane Serpents. I was looking up these creatures on Wowhead to get their correct name and made the happy discovery that on the PTR there are four different colours of wyrm now, (blue – arcane wyrm, purple/pink – arcane serpent, white – spirit of the north, and red – crazed mana wyrm). They have been transformed into beasts from dragonkin, and three types (not the red) will be tameable by Hunters. What excellent news – subject to nothing changing when patch goes live, of course! Now if Blizzard could only take that one step further and make them mounts…

An Arcane Serpent

An Arcane Serpent pic I got from WoWhead

Mount collectors in WoW are an insatiable breed. I know because I’m one of them. Ever since TBC when Blizzard unleashed new mounts into the game –  a lot of them – and mounts became learnable ‘spells’, I was hooked.  In the early game, mounts took up bag space, and with this being precious enough as it is, most players would only take one mount out on the road with them (and one companion pet as well, if they were into those too). It was not the norm for people to collect mounts in the way we do now. First, there were far fewer of them about, second, reputation was far more difficult to earn with the home cities, third the aforementioned inventory/bank space was prohibitive to collecting anything really, and fourth, gold was harder to come by than it is now. You needed 1K for the level 60 riding skill (which at that time was only the 100% ground mount speed), and most players struggled badly enough getting the 100 gold together just for slow ground riding. The faster ground mounts were seen rarely in the game, and were in fact the prestige mounts of their day.

But TBC changed all that. The price of ground riding was slashed to a manageable amount, gold became more easily earned in the new expansion, inventory space was no longer a problem and oooh look at all these amazing new mounts!

The first were the talbuks you could get in Nagrand from your faction’s allies in the area. There was a choice of six different ones. You needed exalted reputation to buy them and at first they didn’t come cheap. Players would usually only buy one, or perhaps different coloured ones on alts. Some were more expensive than others, being armoured. This was the first bona fide rep grind in WoW for new mounts and most people I knew were happy to do it. We’d just not had exotic new mounts before, and the talbuks, or high goats as they were affectionately nicknamed, looked quite exotic to us at the time.

Later in the expansion we were given our first flying mounts, which were drakes – those from Netherwing ledge. Again, quite a grind, but we’d never imagined we’d be able to have drake mounts, so whatever it took we did it gladly. We were given another faction to earn rep with, the Shatari Skyguard, who also sold mounts – the nether rays. At the end of TBC, achievements were introduced in the pre-patch to WotLK. One of these was to acquire 50 mounts. It was doable, just, with all the new mounts in Outland, but it cost a packet.  As you needed all available mounts, it was a bankrupting experience to attempt that achievement at the time. I managed it by clearing out the bank accounts of several alts, but I wanted the reward for the achievement so badly – the albino drake – that I didn’t care. This was the first ‘proper’ drake mount in WoW, since the nether drakes were a species unto themselves really. They didn’t look like any other dragons we saw in the game and had rather ‘sharklike’ faces. That said, I still love them.

TBC also brought in a few rare drop mounts, such as the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, the Ashes of Alar from the Tempest Keep raid, the Fiery Warhorse from the Karazhan raid and the White Hawkstrider from Magister’s Terrace.  All of these were rare at the time, the Ashes of Alar phoenix particularly so, as the boss who dropped it, Kael’thas, was no pushover when he was current. I can remember the first time someone got that mount on our server – a Horde player – and they were riding it in Shattrath city. Everyone just clustered round him to gawp in wonder at this amazing looking mount. We’d seen nothing like it before. Silly rumours abounded, such as only one per server would be allowed. That was untrue, but it was still incredibly rare owing to the difficulty of downing that boss and the fact only a small percentage of players were actually attempting the 25 man raids back then.

WotLK brought in dozens more mounts and a new way to get some highly prestigious ones. These were the rewards from completing dungeon and raid meta-achievements. It gave guilds really good incentives to complete the achievements. Unfortunately, there was a hiccup with the raid achievement mounts. Two were awarded for completing all of the Naxxramas achievements (one for 10 man, one for 25 man), but Blizzard removed them from the game when they released Ulduar, the next tier of raiding.  They now realise themselves it was a mistake, even though elitist players who’d got those mounts were pleased about it, because they felt that owning them showed everyone around them that they had completed Naxx when it was at its most challenging. People who outgeared the place later had – and have – no chance of getting those mounts.

One thing I will never understand is certain players’ desire to keep prestige mounts away from others. This is because a prestige mount is only prestigious until the next slew of difficult to obtain mounts is released. All those players smugly preening because no one else could get the black proto-drake or plagued proto-drake any more probably wouldn’t be seen dead on theirs once they’d got their paws on one of the Ulduar reward protos. Really, why should they care what players who take longer to complete things do with content and mounts they’ve left behind? How many of them now ever get their black/plagued proto out of the stable? I can’t remember the last time I saw one; probably not since way before Cata. And yet we still see the complaints, and the demands from a certain type of player, that some mounts should remain inaccessible to the majority. I wouldn’t dispute that maybe some of these people are better players than those who follow in their footsteps, but again, why should they get riled about people getting rewards they no longer even care about? It’s just dog in the manger to me; selfish and puerile. Thankfully, Blizzard appears to feel the same way about it; they’ve not removed any meta achievement mounts since the Naxxramas ones. I still really hope they’ll put them back one day; I’m quite sure players would flock to do those achievements then, and most wouldn’t care who else got the mounts. They’d simply enjoy them themselves until they got a newer one they’d prefer to ride about on.

As a serious mount collector, I know that some mounts will be beyond me until I vastly outgear the content they’re found in. This is simply because few people share my passion, so getting a team together when the mounts are current is difficult, once our progression team has moved on to a new raid, leaving the mounts from metas and rare boss drops behind. That’s OK. The friends I have who share my collector’s gene know as well I do we’ll have to wait until just the few of us can tackle the content. It’s annoying but that’s just the way things are. But I don’t think that any mount in the game (with the exception of the Arena reward mounts, which are a thing apart) should ever be utterly inaccessible to players, or should be removed to keep selfish elitists happy.  No true mount collector minds hard work. While that lovely goddess Arenjee might cause us to lament and gnash our teeth occasionally, mostly we’re happy with what we do. We are not so much into the concept of prestige mounts – just… mounts. But for some, exclusivity is the only thing that makes a mount worth having. As far as they’re concerned, mounts are for showing off to other people in cities, in the hope everyone is green with envy, rather than to be enjoyed by the person lucky enough to get them. This is amply demonstrated by the reaction to the Blizzard store mounts (which the majority of collectors would have bought the moment they came out). Few would deny that the store mounts are pretty gorgeous, and if they were rare drops from raids or difficult metas you’d never hear a bad word against them. But simply because they can be bought, they are heaped with scorn by certain players. This is particularly the case with Heart of the Aspects. When that shiny gold drake/serpent showed up in the game data, and no one knew how it would be attained, you saw comments on forums from players virtually slavering over it. Most assumed it would be a drop or a meta reward from the Dragon Soul raid. Then we found out people could simply nip to the shop and buy it. Suddenly, as these mounts started to appear in Stormwind and Orgrimmar, it was a target for verbal abuse. Personally, I don’t care a bit. I’ll ride my Winged Guardian or Heart of the Aspects, or even the poor old reviled Sparkle Pony, whenever I want to, and am glad I can do so.

Mounts really do inspire some quite incandescent feelings among the player base; rage from those who want them kept exclusive, resentment from those who want a chance at them when they’re able to do the content, and wistfulness from the collectors who simply wish it was a case of nose to the grindstone to get mounts, not just down to the whims of Arenjee or insurmountable content pinnacles we have to wait years (in some cases) to climb. But it’s not all negative. Nothing can compare to finishing a meta achievement and getting the mount reward in the mail, or winning a roll on a rare drop, or even soloing content for years and then finally seeing that longed-for mount turn up in the loot. It’s also a great feeling when you get to the end of a rep grind and can go and buy the mount you’ve worked so hard to get. They’re only pixels, and yet they can invoke such emotions – crazy really.

I’m fully expecting that the beautiful new phoenix mounts in Mists will be the privilege of the hardcores for a couple of years, and they’ll no doubt be gratified by that, but I’ll be happy if I can get one eventually. It was quite a tease by Blizzard to give everyone in the Beta one of these mounts in their collection. I could hardly bear riding it, because I just knew it would most likely be a long long time before I could get one for real. Or maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Whatever happens, there are again dozens of new mounts in Mists and many of them involve only rep grinds. That, I can handle. I’m a hardcore rep grinder!