A lot of familiar faces, as promised, have shed their former Aldor and Scryer ties to join the Shattered Sun Offensive, and it's bought some new activity to the capital of Outland that you'll want to check out before you go running back to Azeroth to look for a Magister's Terrace group.
The first thing I noticed when I logged on to the PTR was that the main ring of Shattrath has changed quite a bit. Gone are the Aldor troops constantly laughing. Oh the laughing. Instead, you'll find Shattered Sun Offensive troops, both Draenei and Blood Elf, male and female, training together. Most of the major names you've come to know and love are still there as well. Emissary Mordin is now a Shattered Sun member, as is Grand Anchorite Almonen, as well as Harbinger Haronem and his whole group. Yes, Harbinger Haronem, who teaches his troops near the Aldor cooking pot. I haven't heard for sure yet if this means the so-called Aldor Victory Soup is now Shattered Sun Offensive Victory Soup, and no longer subject to poisoning by the Scryers, but it would certainly be nice if friends are no longer torn apart by such a vicious act of sabotage, even if it's too late for Jimmy.
If you head inside the main ring, you'll find a war council in progress, as General Tiris'alan (a new Shattered Sun NPC) and the Grand Anchorite stand looking down at a rather detailed three dimensional map of the Sunwell Plateau sitting below A'dal, perfect for strategy meetings. Perhaps that's why the Aldor and Scryer joined forces for this battle. After all, there can't be any fighting in the war room.
It's honestly heartwarming to see how well the Aldor and Scryer are working together. It really isn't just lip service, at least not in Shattrath. Grand Anchorite Almonen still comes to give his blessing to departing troops, but now his speech is to Shattered Sun Offensive soldiers, Blood Elf and Draenei alike. He still gives his sermons before A'dal as well, and now they too are an audience composed of both Draenei and Blood Elf, who he counts as equally pursuing the light, who respond to his sermon with a hearty "May it be so!" before dispersing. The Scryers seem to be quite vindicated in the lore with this patch, proving themselves to be true disciples of A'dal and followers of the Light.
Unfortunately, there's still apparently some sore spots, and places where the rivalry continues. You are still attacked and banished if you go to the other side's tier, and the various merchants and bankers of each side still refuse to talk to the followers of the other side. Despite that, There's still signs that even they are getting into the spirit of co-operation. Many of them, such as the Aldor recruits headed to Nagrand, are wearing the Tabard of the Shattered Sun now instead of their own factional tabard.
Beyond taking in the new sights, there's other reasons to stick around Shattrath a bit longer before you head off to the Sunwell. There's three new Shattered Sun Offensive dailies that provide some amazing compensation and a good chunk of Shattered Sun Offensive reputation.
First from Emissary Mordin, who is just a bit north of the flightmaster, you'll get a quest called "Gaining the Advantage." Mordin tells you that his colleagues in Stormwind can make oils to strengthen the blades and armor using Nether Residue found on herbs, ore, and beasts. Unfortunately, that means you must be a miner, a skinner, or an herbalist to do this daily quest. Luckily, my character is a skinner. In return, he offers 16 gold and 2 Major Rejuvenation Potions.
Standing next to Emissary Mordin is a new Blood Elf NPC named Lord Torvos. He reveals that the Blood Elves of Netherstorm are planning an attack to draw attention away from the Sunwell, and asks you to retrieve some Sunfury Attack Plans from any Blood Elf in Netherstorm. He offers a bundle of Shattered Sun Supplies and 10 gold.
Finally if you head over to Harbinger Haronem by the Scryer bank, you'll notice he's being harassed by a Gnomish inventor named Whirligig Whizzlefry. Haronem will ask you to help him get some of the gnome's research done so he can have some peace, and gives you some goggles, instructing you to go to Nagrand near Oshu'gun, and use them to find and take readings on clouds appearing near there. Like Torvos before him, he will also offer a box of supplies and 10 gold.
Once I had these three quests, I first headed outside into Terrokar forest to fight a few wolves and basilisks. I found the drop rate on the residue quite reasonable, getting about 5 residues off of 12 skinning attempts - and this off level 62 mobs. I decided I'd head off to Nagrand to try out the goggles, and just grab the last few residues off Clefthoof and Elekks. After landing in and exiting Telaar, I equipped the goggles and almost immediately spotted some red clouds just south of the road between Telaar and Aeris Landing. They're red, and while not extremely bright, easy enough to spot against green grass and blue sky. I actually got all 6 readings (by standing near the clouds and using the goggles) much quicker than I got the remaining 3 residue I needed. However, I did manage to skin a lot of good leather, including some Thick Clefthoof Leather, so I'd say the drop rate, which I'd estimate at about 25% or so, was fair enough. The residue itself is marked as a quest item, so unfortunately it does not look like stockpiling it is an option. You'll have to collect 8 of them every day.
To finish off the quests, I headed up to Area 52 in Netherstorm, and from there out to Manaforge B'naar. It probably took me a good 25 Blood Elves, and I was starting to think that the plans I needed didn't exist, but someone else in the zone was claiming that they looted it off their first kill, so your mileage may vary. I finally got it off a Blood Warder. By that time, I'd also gotten a few Sunfury Signets and even an Arcane Tome along with a stack of Netherweave Cloth, so even with a low drop rate, the extra loot was certainly worth it.
All in all, I probably spent more time annoyed by the massive server lag or flying to various destinations rather than actually doing the quests, and in return I got quite a bit of gold, 750 Shattered Sun Offensive reputation (250 for each quest), 2 Major Rejuvenation Potions, and 2 boxes of Shattered Sun Supplies. Upon opening the boxes, I found some Conqueror's Vambraces of the Gorilla, as well as a Conqueror's Breastplate of Stamina. In addition to that, I have been hearing from some sources that the supply boxes also have a chance to contain a Badge of Justice. If that's true, that alone might be more than enough reason to do these dailies daily.
As you can see then, It's certainly worth sticking around Shattrath before rushing off to the Sunwell. You'll be able to pick some good reputation, a good chunk of gold, a chance at some pretty sweet loot, and an excuse to go grind your favorite ore, hide, or herb. Then once you're done with that, you can go pick up the starting quests for Sunwell Isle from General Tiris'alan and either Dathris Sunstriker or Adyen the Lightwarden up on their respective tiers, and you'll be ready to head out of Shattrath already having struck a blow in the war against Kil'jaedan.
It's worth noting one or two more changes on the PvP front before you head off, though. The Alliance Brigadier General and the Horde Warbringer are now standing front and center among their battlemasters instead of skulking in a corner as they current are on live. The old Concerted Efforts quest is back. However, instead of 3 marks of each battleground like it used to be, now it's just 1 each. It's a repeatable, not a daily, and gives 12 gold and 314 Honor the first time, and just the 314 Honor each time after that. That means that anyone sitting on a bunch of marks and not knowing what exactly to do with them has just found their answer. Arena-goers in Shattrath get their own queuing area as well, as "Backstab" Bindo Gearbomb moves to a large tent across from the Horde battlemasters, along with two bruiser guards and an assistant.