WoW 2006 - A Year in Review
By: David "Xerin" Piner, Bryon "Messiah" Murdry, and Amber "Aurael" Weldon
The year 2006 brought many changes to World of Warcraft. The developers, in an effort to provide more flexibility to the game, released five major patches over the course of the year.
Patch 1.9 was released in the year's first quarter. It joined our auction houses at the major cities and reset our high-level instances. On every server the Horde and Alliance combined resources to combat the threat of the opening Anh Qiraj gates.
Rain fell for the first time in Azeroth in the second quarter of 2006. Gnomish engineers came up with a handy invention called a keyring and the flight masters for both Horde and Alliance taught their animals to carry their passengers extended distances. Dungeon sets became available through questing and level 60 characters were rewarded with gold rather than useless experience.
In quarter three, patch 1.12 brought changes to player vs. player play. Cross-server battlegrounds were introduced, causing shorter wait times for those who prefer to further their faction through the slaughter of an enemy over a field of battle. In addition, world PvP was added, allowing some contested areas to be conquered and controlled by a single faction.
Finally, the fourth quarter of 2006 brought 2.0. The last major patch before the new year and the Burning Crusade expansion brought us new talents, arenas and a new Looking-For-Group interface.
A total of three new instances as well as several talent changes for various classes were also introduced throughout the year.
We at Ten Ton Hammer now present, for your reading pleasure, an overview of the advances in World of Warcraft from the year 2006.
Patch 1.9 was probably one of the biggest patches of the year for most raid players. It opened up two new raid instances for players, the Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj and the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. The ruins were a 20 man raid that is on par with Zul'Gurrub in difficulty and filled a hole for smaller guild raids, while the Temple was a new harder 40 man raid that gave high end guilds something to aim for.
Both of these raids offered up new challenges for different players. At the same time it had offered the chance to work as a server to open the gates in the first place. It was one of the only times Horde and Alliance worked together to achieve objectives, even on PvP servers. Players crowded servers that were first to open the gates and fought to get on when they thought the gates would open to catch the sequence and to be there.
The other huge change to players was the linked auction houses, which people had been screaming for since the game was released. No longer would you be forced to bind just to Orgrimmar or Ironforge just so you could buy or sell items. You were now free to go to any of the capital cities to sell your wares or purchase your new loot. This was a critical update in allowing players more freedom in their movement around the continents, it also allowed more to go on in the other cities which had become almost ghost towns.
Lastly the Paladin talent update was huge to all Paladin players since it brought in some extra controllability and removed some of the tedium. It was however not enough for most Paladin players (myself included) and Paladins continued to be retired for more exciting classes.
Overall, I think this was a very solid patch with enough changes that hit everyone to be worth the wait
Patch 1.10 was the patch that promised huge improvements to the casual player experience in the end game (level 60). I most players opinions (and mine) it didn't deliver. What it did was change all dungeons to 5 man only, instead of the 10 man mini raids they had become, and put quests in that gave marginal better loot than the Dungeon tier 1 items, but at the cost of many runs through old instances. The items were still inferior to Raid tier 1 items, but required even more time to acquire, with some of the quests being very difficult unless you had items already better than the rewards. The one good thing from the patch is it made players actually think and plan their way through the instances rather than just blitzing them as 10 man raids on easy mode.
There were several nice changes that seem like common sense once they were in such as getting extra gold for quests instead of experience at level 60 and being able to pick the final destination on flights instead of flying each segment separately. Weather was also added to selected zones, however after all the hype leading up to it, it was anti-climactic. It didn't look that great and it did not add anything to the game, so what was the big deal.
Lastly Priests got a talent update that added several nice new talents and a few useless ones... lightwell anyone?
Overall this patch offered some changes, but noting really drastic. I wasn't impressed.
Patch 1.11 came in June and was almost a non-issue to most players, unless you were a Mage or a Shaman. Both saw decent talent updates with many new tricks. Both took a little while for the players to get used to however almost everyone agreed they were better than the old talents. We also got keyrings added to the game, which freed up a few precious bag slots for players. This was a great addition and again, one that should have been there since day one!
The biggest change in 1.11 was the addition of Naxxramas, a new uber difficult 40 man raid. This was supposed to be the big feature, however to most players it was a non issues as on most servers there were only 2-3 guilds per faction that could defeat the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj that were ready to move on to a more difficult raid. For all but those 100-200 players, the addition was a complete waste. To this day, probably less than 5% of all players have set foot in Naxx.
Overall this patch was blah for me. I hadn't beaten AQ40 yet so Naxx was a complete non issue. Unless you play a Mage or Shaman this patch was a joke to most players.
Patch 1.12 came in September, 3 months after patch 1.11. It included some pretty neat things, such as the Rogue talent review, world PvP, and cross-realm battlegrounds. This was pretty much a filler patch as it added nothing of major substance. Well, it did remove the incredibly long queue times for Alterac Valley, but outside of that it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
World PvP has pretty much been forgotten by everyone as it provides little to no reward, outside of the damage bonus which carries into instances. This is important for raiders, but it’s near impossible to defend locations and raid at the same time. However, in The Burning Crusade (the expansion), you can expect this principle to really pay off when everyone is grinding away to level seventy AND the damage bonus rewards are better.
The cross-realm battlegrounds were pretty much the big highlight for this patch. It allowed casual gamers who didn’t have much time to hop into the battleground and compete against fresh talent without super long queues. The mixing up of talent from different servers allowed less of the “the Alliance on my server ALWAYS win” and more of the “WOW, PvP sure is fun!”
The Rogue Talent Review came with mixed feelings, like all reviews, and didn’t last long (patch 2.0 seen a review for each class). Other then that, Auto Self Cast was pretty big with casters. The default functionality of Auto Self Cast allowed many whom solo the ability to cut back on additional mod.
Overall, patch 1.12 was a pretty decent patch. Any patch that could take AV queues down from 2 hours to 2 minutes has to be decent. The added content was pretty bleh though.
The big patch 2.0 came as a surprise to many players, announced mere weeks before its early launch. Patch 2.0 incorporated the majority of the expansions non-expansion content before its release. There was a lot in this patch and “a lot” probably isn’t a big enough word for it. New talents, talent changes, 40 point talents, new profession changes, Enchanting being nerfed, U.I. improvements, arenas, new PvP system, new looking for group interface, and well… the list keeps going on.
The changes in the PvP system are probably the most important thing to come with this patch, not that other features nearly rival it. The ability for casual players to now compete for PvP rewards was a big deal for a lot of people, because no longer did you need someone to play your account with you for 24/7. Instead you just needed the ability to slay enemies, gain battleground tokens, and be frugal with what you spend your points on. Early on, the rate in which you gained honor was allowing people to get Grand Master weapons in two days, but was later nerfed to where it’d take about a five days or a week of insane playing to get one (making the collection a little bit difficult to grab).
The arenas were also pretty amazing. They offer small scale battles that are both fun and full of tactical mastery. Class combos, gear, and skill play a big role in how you perform, but in the end even if you loose you’re out of the fight and into a new one in less then a few minutes.
The talent changes were major and mostly for the better. Warriors felt the pain of having to spend more time gaining rage, but the change was too the good. No longer did they automatically out-DPS Rogues…. but anytime a class looses a major source of damage it can sting for those players. Mages gained the ability to summon their own familiars and Paladins could actually start off-tanking things. Overall, the talent changes for the positive.
The list is just too expansive to critique every little change, but overall this patch was probably the biggest thing of all year. The changes were amazing, if not completely game altering, and the ability for casual players to access the “purpz” (purple items) without relying on world drops or insane luck or difficult quests is always nice.
With the upcoming promise of an expansion a year (or at least an attempt at such) we’ll probably see more activity as patches begin to lead up to the explosive potential of massive amounts of new content.
I think we should all be thankful that each patch never made the game worse, only better (even if it was marginal). Many MMORPGs when they are this old begin adding features and content that the community doesn’t agree with. WoW on the other hand has been keeping everything copasetic.
So here is a to a wonderful 2006 and an even more amazing 2007!
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