Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Death Knight, Part 2

First, a quick supplement to the first post. The gryphon seen more clearly:

Undead Gryphon

Death knights get distinctive mounts. First Cleitus had to steal a horse from the Scarlet Crusade's corral...


...then cross into the shadowlands to defeat one of the dark lords who transform living horses into things that can withstand the undead, demons, and their environments...


...and finally, having impressed the master horseman, could summon his own deathcharger, as seen here against the Ebon Hold:


The first phase of the assault is straightforward. Death knights slaughter defenders of Havenshire, the farms outside New Avalon proper, and Havenshire citizens, and gather up the magical arrows shot by the skeletons seen previously. The interesting thing here is that it's straightforwardly bad deeds—the citizens try to flee, beg for mercy, the whole deal. There is no question but that at this point, Cleitus and his comrades are completely on the wrong side.

"Pulling" is MMO jargon for anything a player has their character do to make one or more enemies c'mon over here for a fight. It can be an arrow or gunshot, or a spell, or a shouted taunt, or any of a number of things. Death knights have a very literal pull in the spell Death Grip:

Death Grip

It yanks the victim through the air to land right in front of the death knight. There may be a day when I grow tired of it, but that day is for sure not this day.

Then comes gathering reinforcements, Scourge style. Cleitus got a poison gas dispenser and directions to a nearby mine. Sometimes the gas just kills a living subject and unleashes a vengeful ghost, but sometimes it makes obedient ghouls, and at the end of successful questing, every death knight has a coterie:

Temporary Legion of Minions

The ghoul master at the Scourge base breaks them down into parts for later use while the death knight gets on with other chores. Specifically, it's time for some mass destruction. This was my introduction to the wonderful world of large weapons in the Lich King era. Cleitus infiltrated a Scarlet Crusade dock...

Cleitus, Hidden

...seized control of an available cannon, and went to work:

Cannon, 1

Scarlet soldiers swarm up to make him stop, of course, but the cannon turns out to have an electrical-discharge defense to help repel boarders:
Cannon, 2

A hundred soldiers gunned down and it's time for Cleitus to leave, with the last blue sky Havenshire will ever see:

Last Blue Sky

These are the trainers waiting for him and his comrades back up in Ebon Hold. Each specializes in one of the three talent trees available to death knights. The lich Amal'thazad, master of cold:


The necromancer Lord Thorval, master of blood:

Lord Thorval

The blood knight Lady Alistra, mistress of the unholy:

Lady Alistra

When Cleitus returned to the ground, the old camp lay largely abandoned. Remaining soldiers pointed him to a new forward base, and he saw that Havenshire had been conquered, the front line now at New Avalon itself:

Phase 2

This is the phasing I've written about before. As I played, I shared the changed space with all the other players who'd started characters at about the same time—within a span of a few hours, I gather, and so long as we were doing the same set of quests. Those who finished them up went on to phase 3 just as we'd all left phase 1 and those working on it behind, when our characters carried reports of early victories back up to Ebon Hold.

It's a wonderful addition to the WoW arsenal, and I'm very grateful to the other MMOs who showed it could be done, and done well.

To be continued, of course.