Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 12, 2007
 
Aldor vs. Scryers

Outland, the new World of Warcraft continent introduced in the Burning Crusade expansion, has only one major city: Shattrath. Two warring factions live in this city, the Aldor and the Scryers. You can gain reputation with either faction, but whenever you gain faction with one of them, you lose even more with the other. Thus you have to decide which side you want to go for if you want to attain the faction reputation rewards, which include gear, "inscriptions" (a kind of enchants), and crafting recipes. Woot, choice!

So you look at the comparative faction rewards tables at WoWWiki or read the guide at Tentonhammer to decide which faction would be better for your character. But after much deliberation you will find that your choice doesn’t really matter, the rewards are pretty much equivalent. For example both factions give an inscription for healers that gives a bonus to healing and mana regeneration. One faction has a slightly higher healing bonus and lower regeneration; the other faction has a slightly higher mana regeneration and lower healing bonus. In jewelcrafting recipes one faction gives a +spell damage gem recipe, the other a +spell critical gem recipe, which ends up doing nearly the same thing.

Do you know how I ended up deciding for one of the factions? I noticed that the only inns in Shattrath are with the two factions, so every time you hearthstone back to the city you arrive either on the Aldor or the Scryers rise, chosing preferably the one of "your" faction. The rises are connected to the remainder of the city with lifts. But the Scryers rise is lower than the Aldor rise, and if you jump down the Scryers lift at full health you won’t die, while jumping down the Aldor lift shaft will kill you. So I went for the Scryers' faction, because it saves me a few seconds of waiting for the lift every time I go there. This is how trivial your choice is.

Having a further look around Outland I noticed how sickeningly symmetrical it is. The Alliance and Horde have the exact same number of outposts and flying points in every zone. Even the quests are often symmetrical. For example behind Thrallmar, the Horde outpost in Hellfire Peninsula, there is a mine filled with demon miners and succubi. Behind Honor Hold, the Alliance outpost in the same zone, there is a mine filled with, you guessed it, demon miners and succubi. I happened to have both a Horde and an Alliance level 60 priest at the start of the Burning Crusade; now I find that there is no reason whatsoever to play the Alliance priest, it will just be the same as playing the Horde priest.

Symmetry is the major feature of the Burning Crusade: Horde gets paladins, Alliance gets shamans. Horde gets pretty elves, Alliance gets monstrous looking Draenei from outer space. In the Caverns of Time both factions rescue Thrall. The Horde quests have you rescue and help exactly the same way as Alliance quests, there are fewer quests that have you do “evil” things in Outland than in the old world. The notion that Horde is evil is becoming increasingly ridiculous. Choosing a side is not a moral or gameplay choice, it is as trivial as choosing to play red or blue in a board game.

Making the game more symmetrical, making Horde more similar to Alliance, and Scryers the same as Aldor, is an obvious reaction from Blizzard to the previous population imbalances between Alliance and Horde (which unfortunately still remain as an artifact from the past). But instead of making factions different but equally good, they went for the much simpler solution of making them nearly the same. But that also removes all real choice, and that is a very bad thing.
Comments:
I believe that the choice between Aldor and Scryers needs more consideration depending on your class and professions.

For example, I play an affliction warlock and thus I value +spell dmg highly, but +crit is almost useless to me as dots can't crit anyway.
 
I read you blog frequently and enjoy it immensely, but have never left a comment! And I usually have comments about everything!

As to this post, I myself noticed something frustrating when I was in SC yesterday. I had gotten a socketed drop from a mob in Terokkar and decided to experiment with it by putting some jewels in it. So back to SC and to the Jewelcrafting NPC as the sell low lvl jewels as well. So i look up where this NPC is on some mappage and see that the NPC is located in the Aldor part of SC. Me having gone with Scyer, (solely because they offer 1 alchemy recepie), get teleported out of town when i try to make a dash for this NPC. Sooooooooo if you are a Jewelcrafting professional, choose Aldor.

Another thing I noticed yesterday as i was finishing up the quests in Terokkar and decided to move on to Nagrand, is that the exit from SC to Nagrand is located in the Aldor part! Ofc I didnt make the dash for the exit and ended up being teleported outside of town on the opposite side as where i wanted to be.

Now this may not be so deterimental in the long run once you have the flightpoints, but right then I couldn't help thinking that Aldor has 2 things, (the Jewelcrafting NPC and a exit to Nagrand), that Scyer allied players will never have access to, and this in a Neutral city. I wonder what Blizzard had in mind when they designed this?

And as I said earlier, I have a comment about everything! Horde have 18 FP's in Outland, whereas Alliance only have 17. Three of the Alliance FP's, Expidition Point, Shatter Point and Forge Camp Mageddon, in Hellfire are one time only in use. I dont play Horde, but I presume that the same goes for Spinebreaker Post in Hellfire. So that leaves us with 15 FP's for Alliance and 17 FP's for Horde. To me it also seems that the Horde FP's are better placed in the zones, but that may be just a case of the-grass-is-greener syndrome!

//Desdichado @ Outland (server)
 
"When everyone is special, nobody is." ;)
 
desd, there is a jewel vendor in the scryer rise. And the whole exit into Nagrand just pops you right by a ton of broken.

The Alliance FP's are all usable again, you just have to take the route manually as they are not recorded on the map.

I currently have a 70 Shaman horde side, and a 63 Alliance Priest. Whilst i agree, quests are similar if not the same, the actual "lore" and such behind each quest tend to differ, and being a geek for those kind of things i tend to take notice.

I would argue the point that giving the horde paladins and giving the alliance shaman's will only really make an impact on new servers, simply for the point that "older" servers will only ever have a few 70's of the new race, meaning only certain communities or guilds can benefit from them - for a long while yet, at least.
 
Oh, I didn't know there was a jewel vendor in the Scyer Rise, will look him/her up this afternoon!

What I meant by "one time only" is that they are used for quest purposes only, and I doubt that I will ever use them again.
 
Shes has a name but isnt called "Jewel Vendor" if you get my meaning, she is named "Fence" and is opposite a dagger or sword seller or somesuch, she is on the left as you walk out of the inn somewhere.
 
I chose Aldor based purely on Role Play - The Draenei hate the Burning Legion, and so does my character. The choice was not based on anything else. Surely a game is more than just statistics and maximum damage? What happened to imagination?
 
As an aside, the Horde never were 'evil'. Following the lore, the Alliance brought more evil upon the world then the Horde ever did.
 
I was just going to post that, the humans and elves have wrought more evil on the world by choice, than the horde ever did as slaves. :)

The only symmetry that might be present is the return of Thrall to the Greatmother in Nagrand and him visiting Hellscream's son. I am not sure if there is an equivalent for Alliance. That event is so awesome (even though the vision is a little silly) that when people are about to turn it in they announce in General and horde come from all over the region and you'll see players walking behind Thrall like a parade, all /cheering him. It is probably the best event I have seen in the game, though a large part of what makes it great is the other players really getting into it.
 
The duality of BC is annoying. The quests are often the same, with just the words changed. Last night I was hunting Ironjaw for the Horde quest in Terrokar. I saw an alliance huntertame him and run off, and I grumbled about how I lost it, thinking it was a special mob as Horde have a few quests like that in the original game. Not so. For the alliance version of the quest, you're not trying to kill Ironjaw to heal the land, you're instead trying to get a hunter a lining for his cloak. Which side is evil again?

I'm really tired of competing not just with fellow Horde, but with Alliance for the exact same mobs. That is a major fault of this expansion, and seems lazy. Like you, I have zero desire to play my Ally chars and repeat these same quests a third time (already run my priest and lock through them).

As for Aldor vs Scryers, there are a few other differences, but again it's not the monumental difference as implied. Scryers get quests in Netherstorm or Shadowmoon (I don't recall which), while Aldor get a few in Nagrand it looks like. Scryers have a much better series. I have one char on each, so it works out pretty well. When I get faction items for the other side, I just mail them over.
 
This is why I previously made a post about why balance can kill a video game. Horde and Alliance used to be different in alot of ways, but then the ZOMG forum posts must have convinced enough Blizz execs to make them more "balanced" or as we are all finding out, more identical.

Balance is good when it pertains to one class being uber and another being gimped, but this is getting out of hand. I can see it now, in two years when Blizz has released a couple more expansion packs, people will look back on the days when being a member of the Horde or Alliance actally stood for something, and how now, as you pointed out Tobold, the decision is as trivial as choosing the car or the thimble in a game of Monopoly.
 
I ventured into the pvp battleground Eye of the storm this weekend. I did an 'M' to pull up the map. Its symmetrical. No faction advantage to this one!
 
The horde was never meant to be "evil".
 
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