Patch 5.4 – Mad about Moon Moon

Moon Moon the wolf falls on his wolf friend.

This is one of the least objectionable Moon Moon meme images.

Trigger warning: ableism discussion and terms.

The first Patch 5.4 notes and PTR came out this week and with it, all the fervor over our first real peek at the content that’s been talked up since Pandaria came out. People have been going gaga over set bonuses, new boss models, but what caught my eye was something way less exciting – a battle pet. Originally when I saw listed that there was a Moon Moon pet dragged out of the datamined content files, I thought it was just something stuck there that wouldn’t have anything meaningful around it.  Contrary to my belief,  Moon Moon is a pet dropping from a new Darkmoon Faire boss and will most definitely be in Patch 5.4. This has me pretty annoyed, if you could guess from the title of my blog post.

Moon Moon is a reference to this meme that got started on Tumblr. It is yet another meme that capitalizes on the mental differences of someone, with a host of veiled ableist insults and terminology. What is ableism? It’s specifically discriminatory actions and language towards someone’s physical or mental disabilities. Ableism usually and casually often occurs to making fun of people with learning disabilities or being on the autism spectrum (“spergin'” “retard/ed”), or for mental illness (“crazy”/”schizo”/”bipolar”/”hysterical”), and physical disabilities (“crip/cripple”, “spaz/spastic”, etc.) or using those terms against others as a negative.

Given that the person who started it all said that Moon Moon would be the “most retarded wolf”, it’s not surprising that everything else has followed suit. Memes, due to nerd culture in general, really like to constantly revolve around this sort of everyperson (or animal) that has speech impediments or some sort of mental “slowness.” It’s gotten so casual to the point that most people don’t realize that it IS insulting, but the reason these jokes proliferate is because denigrating people’s mental capacity has always been a trope for humor, because people consider themselves “better” than others for that reason. It’s hurtful, in short, but very few nerds really care.

Since Blizzard has a really inconsistent policy on including meme fodder in their game (Nom Nom Nom as a druid talent got scrapped, but we have this, plus look at how many Slapchop references there are), the fact that they felt it necessary to make a battle pet (as well as a raid boss, really) dedicated to a fairly recent,  insulting meme is frustrating to me. Meme culture is persistent but often long after it is actually funny, on top of the fact that a lot of them are generally offensive in some way. Did we need this? Not really. I’m sure this is considered by some to be a very petty gripe, but popular culture making its way into World of Warcraft doesn’t always mean it is good.

 

Darkmoon Faire on PTR – Carnies, Cannons and Cannibals

View overlooking the Faire.

It was another boring Sunday yesterday, so when I heard that the new Darkmoon Faire had hit the public test realms, I scampered over and updated. Let me tell you – when Blizzard announced that they were revamping what was a fairly pitiful, forgotten “world event” that people only went to turn in decks and occasionally get their fortune read, perhaps engage in some world PVP, I was over the moon. I love fairs in real life, and the chance to port that feeling into World of Warcraft excites me.

This time around, the fair isn’t plopped next to Elwynn Forest, Shattrath or Thunder Bluff, but on an island shrouded in dark smoke far away. However, Darkmoon Faire NPCs make it very easy to get there. They will teleport you from capital cities to that month’s fair portal (not 100% sure about this), located in one of the spots where the actual fair had been before. The portal then takes you to the Darkmoon Isle.

Loading screen for the new Darkmoon Faire.

When I got there, I was not prepared for all the sights and sounds! There were NPCs scurrying all over, players trying games and lots of debris and supplies piled everywhere. It definitely felt like I was at a real fairgrounds.

Games

The fair has a lot of games of chance that act as dailies. Games tickets are purchased from NPCs at the start of the fair and don’t have a limit. The dailies have a certain objective to complete. However, given how they are structured (using a special vehicle UI, have timers), they often require multiple tries to complete the quest. This means that buying multiple tickets is a must. I went through at least 8 tickets just trying to get the Whack-A-Gnoll game right. (Go for the Hogger gnolls, they count for more!) Completing the quest objective or game mechanic in a exemplary way is how you get the individual game achievements. For example, if you got dropped into the target for the Cannon Shooting, you got an achievement. It was fun trying to do the games as fast and perfectly as possible, even though a lot of them required multiple tickets to learn. None of them felt like a slog though – even with the vehicle UI. This is no Jousting v.2! And like any carnival game, there was a certain element of “being rigged.”

One of the interesting mechanics that Blizzard decided to drop into the games portion of the fair was this “GET OUT” zone around the large space each game had. It meant that if you felt like running across the game area for any of the games (save for the Shoot-Out game), you would get teleported out and stunned momentarily, much like when you entered the various Shattrath faction areas when you weren’t supposed to be there. It kept most of the game fields clear so you could see what you were tossing rings at, whacking, etc. The only place that didn’t have it’s own dedicated area and anti-grief field was the Shoot-Out game. It was three small targets in a typical vendor tent and had no way of keeping all the idiots on the PTR back from standing on the tent or inside the tent on their giant mounts. The point of the game is to shoot whatever target is being highlighted and to win, you had to basically shoot blind. I made a suggestion to the PTR forums that they give this game its own space and bubble; there’s no reason that people should not have fun playing it because people just want to make stuff hard to see.

The games themselves include: a whack-a-gnoll game, human cannonball, shooting gallery, tonk challenge, and ring toss on a turtle.

Quests and the Darkmoon Faire Guide

Along with the gaming dailies, there’s also profession quests and quests that allow you to gain items from PVE or PVP content. The quests that you get are determined by what professions you have – I had quests for cooking, first aid, archeology, herbalism and alchemy. Some of the quests require you to go fetch items from inns or general crafting vendors back in the capital cities, but with city portals on the fair’s docks, it is a quick snap to go and come back. And the quests are fun! I was running around, picking flowers, bandaging up injured carnies, and mixing up fizzy drinks. (Why can’t we include brewing with alchemy, please?!)

As you can see, it awards  you five skill points, a token (for using at the games), and a prize ticket – the prize tickets are obtained from the quests and games and can be put towards many of the vanity items that are sold at the fair.

The other quest is called Test Your Strength and charges you, Darkmoon Faire Guide in hand, to kill 250 mobs or players that give you experience, reputation or honor.

But what is the Faire Guide for? Apparently the guide is an item you keep in your bags (obtained from the Darkmoon Faire Information NPC at the fairgrounds), and helps you “discover” artifacts when you are out questing, doing raids/dungeons, or PVPing. Anyone of any level can use it as well. The actual blog post about it on WoW’s front page explained it better:

The Darkmoon Faire Field Guide

It’s your passport to riches, my friend. Y’see, we need a few things — just some junk, nothing valuable to a big hero like you. We call ‘em Darkmoon Artifacts, and there’s all different kinds to be found all over Azeroth. The Darkmoon Field Guide helps you discover artifacts while you’re explorin’ dungeons, slayin’ monsters, and fightin’ in Battlegrounds. Without a guide, you’d never notice ‘em, and it’ll help keep you focused on the stuff we want. Whether you just reached level 10, or you’ve crushed the biggest baddies in the land, we need somethin’ from nearly everybody. You won’t have to go too far out of your way to get ‘em and each month you’ll get a new opportunity to seek out an Artifact for us. What do you get out of the deal? Don’t you worry, you’ll get your cut. When you bring a Darkmoon Artifact back to us, you’ll get valuable experience (it builds character, you know!), earn a better reputation, and possibly earn precious Darkmoon Faire Prize Tickets too!

The field guide will help you unlock several artifact-based achievements by discovering all nine artifacts, so make sure to carry with you at all times.

Vanity Items – Mounts, Pets, Heirlooms and Much More

The prize tickets I mentioned before are the main currency for the rewards you get at the faire – and there are quite a lot. I found 3-4 vendors just selling cute things that would be of interest to anyone. One contained mostly pets that you can purchase at the fair (along with another balloon vendor), and one contained mounts, including the datamined Dancing Bear.

There were also two armor vendors; one sold the heirlooms that are still purchasable with both Argent Tourney tokens as well as Justice Points, and another sold the Dungeon Tier 1 set revival gear that people can use to skin their regular armor with via transmogging. I of course had to try the Magister armor on my goblin:

I try on the Magister's armor.

Don’t I look cute? It is funny but I had most of that set and trashed it once I got Tier 1 and 2. Mostly because I thought it looked very ugly and garish. Funny how nostalgia changes things! It looks right now that an upper bound of the tickets you can get in a full week of Darkmoon Faire dailies and quests is 175, meaning that you can purchase 2 pets, or one mount, or an assortment of your chosen dungeon set or heirlooms once a month.

Attractions

Peppered in-between the quests and various vendors are a few things that make the faire feel more than just a hub for dailies. It feels very alive and swims with things for you to see or do to your heart’s content.

  • Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain concert that plays on a special stage at the top of the hour.
  • Krolin the Dancing Bear
  • Deathmatch Arena – while the island is a sanctuary by design, there is a giant Gadgetzan-style arena cage where participants can jump in and bloody eachother.
  • Sayge’s Fortunes – gives you a buff!
  • Food Cafes
  • Pony and Ram Rides
  • Petting Zoo
  • Pavilions – under construction currently but should contain something later on.
  • Sandbox – pick one of your favorite tiger designs and get to riding!
  • Fire-eaters, Torch Tossers and Fireworks – lots of pyrotechnics on display here.
All of these things make you feel like you can wander for hours and relax while taking in the amusements and frivolities of the faire. My only wish is that one of the pavilion tents gets turned into a nickel-odeon where we can watch various cinematics! I tried out most of these attractions and even got pounded a pulp by 40 Alliance players that were sitting in a raid inside of the deathmatch cage. Ouch.
…Cannibals?
While out exploring the entirety of the island’s landmass (there’s a named cave on the map but it holds nothing as of yet), I heard a croaky voice hissing somehow in my ear.
“Come, my sweetling, come taste my delicious waresssssss….yesssss….”

I gulped and turned. Stinking of who-knows-what, I was face-to-face with a haggard gash of a smile containing moss-green teeth.

Beware Rona Greenteeth’s wares if you run into her. Sure, she may offer the most savory Troll tartare in all of Azeroth, but caution to those unaware adventurers who don’t know where the meat is coming from…

Jokes aside, I feel that Blizzard’s world event team has really been knocking it out of the park lately. Between the revamped Hallow’s End event and now what promises to be a bigger and better Darkmoon Faire, we are in for a real treat when 4.3 actually drops in a couple weeks. Prepare to put on your best dresses and plate and stomp down to the fairgrounds for an immersive, expansion and entertaining monthly event that has all sorts of achievements, prizes and acclaim for those who wish to seek it!

For full guides and videos on this event, check out WoWhead News, as well as Mat McCurley’s video guide over at WoW Insider.

For an intriguing look at Darkmoon’s creepy past, check out Mia’s Azeroth.

Public Testing Realm – 4.3

Usually I have better things to do in-game on live servers than check out PTR – I tend to be of the sort where I hate to be spoiled on things before they happen and I don’t like to wear myself out on new content before it is even 100 percent done! 4.3, however, has been most attractive in terms of things I like about the game. New raid content, new gear, and new vanity stuff – pets, mounts, and especially transmogging. So when the PTR came up last week, I just had to try it out.

Transmogrification

After downloading the patch and getting all my mods and macros/keybinds set-up, I quickly ran over to the transmogging/reforging shop in Stormwind. It is located on the west side of the outer Cathedral shops, and in Ogrimmar, it’s down in the Drag across the way from the cooking quest NPC. Transmogrification is easily the one thing I am most looking forward to in 4.3. My only real problem right now is that I have such trouble really tapping into outfits that I want to wear that aren’t just straight tier sets – especially for my mage main. I love the look of progression raiding tier for mages usually, so I don’t know why I’d want to skirt around that. So at first, transmogging seemed to be a 3 second affair – while I have tons of gear saved in my bank for my own nostalgia, I didn’t want to change into it. So I picked something simple to start with:

Apple Cider and another mage standing outside transmog shop. They have only mogged their hats into a pair of pink goggles and a red hat respectively.

Gnome mages don't need transmogging, eh?

One of the upsides of doing PTR is they very often let you change races, names/features, or even faction on a whim to test out those services. Suffice to say, I took one of my mage clones and ported her over to Horde. This is tempting me pretty hard to roll Horde and never come back. Look how stylish these goggles are now:

Two goblin mage pictures: one of Cider posing with stylish pink goggles, on the right Cider posing saucily with a red witch's hat on.

All in all, goblin mages just look SO much better in my tier gear than I do. Eventually, when one of my guildmate’s and I did the End of Time dungeon (which I’ll talk about in a bit), I transmogged into something a little more timey-wimey, Furious Gladiator Regalia. Transmogrification isn’t too steep right now, so take some of your extra-fake gold on the PTR and try it out. I suspect this won’t be as much of a goldsink as…

Void Storage

While blues have said that the final costs of Void Storage are not set in stone yet, on the PTR they are definitely worth a pretty penny. It’s 1000G to unlock the service and then 100G per stack of stuff to place in your storage, or withdraw it (the “basket” is a 3×3 storage container.) There were some bugs when initially testing it, as I lost some of my prized possessions quite LITERALLY to the void, but they are back in there now. Some unfortunate drawbacks of the system so far:

  • No unique-equipped items.  This means anything with that label, including certain rep items, quest rewards or special pieces of gear. It makes me upset as MOST of the things I had hoped to shove in my storage fall into this category. I have a very large, nearly complete collection of boss quest reward items and none of them qualify. This is something I hope they fix.
  • No stackable items. That one Eternal Ember I have left over from the legendary quest step I was on will not be going in there.
  • No non-soulbound items. So all those strange grey or white items you have have to stay in the bank. I think the Ethereals just have a problem with Pet Rocks.
But I am anticipating sticking all the tier gear I collected (but would never ‘mog) into my Void Storage, so that’s all well and good. Looks like all those giant bags I got for my bank will finally be used for useful things, like new transformation items.  I have issues, don’t I?

New 5-Man Dungeon: End Time (Spoilers)
Nozdormu stands in front of a battered Wyrmrest Temple, with a gouged Deathwing on top.

Nozdormu guards the End of Time timeway.

End of Time is the only non-raid dungeon up at the time of this writing, and I must say, it knocks it out of the park. We return to the Bronze Dragonflight and their efforts to maintain the timestream, but this time, in the future, at the end of all things after Deathwing has “won” the battle against Azeroth. It has a very desolate, surreal feel to it, much like some episodes of Doctor Who. Players are given a random choice of four Dragonshrines, each with their own Echo (a faded version of a world leader), which serves as the end boss. You clear various trash mobs in the dragonshrine and then fight the Echo at the center. Most of the trash and their abilities (or various environmental) effects aren’t too hard for people who are 360+ geared and above, but some of the end bosses have neat abilities you still have to be careful of.

The choices for end bosses are Sylvanas, Tyrande, Jaina and Baine Bloodhoof and you go through two of those before getting to the final Dragonshrine – the Bronze Shrine. You fight Murozond, considered to be the Infinite Dragonflight version of Nozdormu (the letters of his name are rearranged, “that’s how you know he’s evil.”) You use one of most interesting fight mechanics so far to fight him – a giant bronze hourglass. Murozond scatters giant patches of flamey-wamey timey-wimey stuff on the ground and you use the hourglass to reset the fight. It doesn’t reset Muro’s health, but it reverses you backwards in time to your former positions and gives you a speed (haste and movement) buff as well as resetting your HP, MP and baseline class cooldowns. However, it also makes the boss cast his floor puddles faster, so it is literally a race against the clock whether you kill him or run out of the 5 hourglasses you are allowed to use for the fight. I really had a fun time doing this dungeon. The atmosphere is amazing and the structure of the dungeon is fast-paced and unique. I’ve always loved the Bronze Dragonflight and the sorts of fight mechanics Blizzard could use under the guise of “time travel” but this one really takes the cake.

New Baradin Hold Boss: Alizabal, Mistress of Hate

This seems like 4.3 is going to have the highest ratio of female to male bosses ever. I’ll let you know how the shivaan Mistress of Hate holds up, as Blizzard did not see it fit to allow both Horde and Alliance test the BH boss by holding the raid open, but rather you still have to win TB to have access to it, on the PTR. She reportedly had 10man health on 25man setting, according to my friend who did get to try it last night, but don’t expect that to last.

New Spell Effects

I play neither a boomkin nor an elemental shaman, but I do take some glee in the fact that the Variable Pulse Lightning Capacitor’s lightning bolt effect uses the new spell effects on the PTR. It’s fun to be a mage and to shoot a giant arcing lightning bolt at something randomly.

What About You?

What are you guys most looking forward to in 4.3? Have you picked out transmogging outfits yet? What do you think mine should be? Does anything ACTUALLY match Branch of Nordrassil? Post your comments or pictures in the reply box and let me know.