This week we'll continue our Mountain O' Mounts guide examining rides from the WoW Trading Card Game and pet shop. For all those of you who let your snark flag fly over the sparkle pony ... here's your chance again! Here's the full series if you're just catching up with us:
- Combining The Ambassador and Mountain O' Mounts
- Mountain O' Mounts in Outland
- Mountain O' Mounts in Northrend
- Mountain O' Mounts in 5-man dungeons
- Mountain O' Mounts in raids
- Mountain O' Mounts from achievements
- Mountain O' Mounts from PVP
- Mountain O' Mounts from professions
- Mountain O' Mounts from holidays
- Mountain O' Mounts in Cataclysm
- Mountain O' Mounts and the Argent Tournament
Mounts and pets from the Blizzard pet shop have been controversial since day one, although I'm not certain I understand why. Players have always been able to "buy" special mounts and pets via the Trading Card Game, and few people seemed to have serious objections to that. My best guess is that TCG rewards are the indirect result of players' actually enjoying the card game, and maybe people considered all the cool stuff that resulted as a nice bonus on top of that even if they were just buying particular cards off eBay or whatever.
- Celestial Steed Yes, folks, it's the sparkle pony! Perhaps the most notorious mount in the history of WoW, the Celestial Steed was both instantly popular and instantly unpopular, if that makes any sense. People generally like the mount itself, which is very pretty and a reskin of the Invincible model. They don't always like Blizzard's slow move to an increasing amount of pay content, and a lot of people wondered if the Celestial Steed was the harbinger of very bad things to come. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case; everything through the pet store is for vanity purposes only, and we hope it'll stay that way. The sparkle pony is also notable for being the butt of at least one genius quest designer's joke in Welcome to the Machine, one of the best and funniest new quests to emerge in Cataclysm. Personally, I just like it because it looks like tiny stars are hopping off it like tiny celestial fleas, and this amuses me.
- Winged Guardian Words fail me: This looks really cool, and I think it's proof positive of just how good Blizzard's gotten with model design and animation. Now, for the love of all that is holy, will someone please overhaul the wyvern model?
WoW Trading Card Game mounts run the gamut from Holy crap, that's amazing to How on earth is this considered a unique mount? Anyone interested in seeing the array of cards available for pets, mounts, and miscellaneous fun stuff should definitely visit WoW TCG Loot, by the way. The site's invaluable for seeing what's out there, what you can expect to pay for it, and even the financial history of each card.
- Amani Dragonhawk Available from the Twilight of the Dragons expansion, this is actually the only way for Alliance players to get a dragonhawk mount outside of the blue one awarded for Mountain O' Mounts. It has the same pretty color scheme you'll see on dragonhawk NPCs within Zul'Aman ... for all those of you who haven't had your fill of them while running the place and wiping to the dragonhawk boss in a PUG. I am very depressed by the number of people for whom the request "Please kill the one on the left first and let the other one through" is open to interpretation.
- Big Battle Bear Available from the Drums of War expansion, this is one of the very few bear mounts that doesn't have something (goggles or armor) obscuring its eyes, for whatever reason.
- Blazing Hippogryph Available from the Wrathgate expansion, this is a really, really pretty mount and the only hippogryph in the game (barring taxi hippogryphs from night elf flight paths) to eschew the usual armor. The Flameward Hippogryph reward from the Molten Front is occasionally compared to it, and which you prefer is simply a matter of taste. As with the talbuk mounts we've already discussed, I actually kind of like the unarmored version.
- Magic Rooster Available from the Fields of Honor expansion, this was being sold by a vendor on one of the PTRs or betas I was on (I no longer recall which). For a brief period, absolutely everyone I saw in major cities was sitting astride a giant cock. Ha ha! The joke was inevitable. You all knew it. It's a reskinned version of the blood elf hawkstrider mount, but let's face it: Riding a giant chicken never gets old. You can also pretend to be Hans the hedgehog from Jim Henson's The Storyteller.
- Mottled Drake This is available from the Worldbreaker expansion. Honestly, I find this to be the least compelling TCG mount; it looks like a bronze drake with a bad outbreak of acne or possibly leprosy. The drake models are getting increasingly tired and could really do with an update. In comparison to the protodrake and firehawk models, they just look terrible.
- Riding Turtle Available from the Heroes of Azeroth expansion, this is one of the first (if not the first) TCG mounts introduced, and it's a little on the bizarre side in that it doesn't increase your speed the slightest bit unless you're in water.
- Savage Raptor This mount is available from the recent (April 2011) War of the Elements expansion. Horde players probably won't find this a terribly compelling mount, as it's simply a recoloration of the Darkspear trolls' 60% mounts, but this is the only form of that model that Alliance have a shot at riding. Personally, I still find the Venomhide Ravasaur the best of the lot.
- Spectral Tiger This comes from the Fires of Outland expansion. Before the mount changes, this was a 60% mount only, which was a great disappointment to anyone who found this but not the swift version (below).
- Swift Spectral Tiger Available from the Fires of Outland expansion, it's a more heavily armored version of the Spectral Tiger above. Both are completely unmistakeable, even at a distance. If you're Horde, the only other big cat mount to which you'll have access is (these days, at least) the Zul'Gurub Swift Zulian Panther.
- Wooly White Rhino This is available from the Icecrown expansion. For whatever reason, I have yet to see one of these on either of the two servers on which I play, so I had to rely on Wowhead's gallery and YouTube to get a good sense of the rhino's size and animations. It looks like it's a reskinned version of a kodo -- another mount that could seriously use an update these days -- and it's almost as large as a mammoth.
- X-51 Nether Rocket This comes from the Servants of the Betrayer expansion. Interestingly, both this and the X-51 X-TREME (below) are usable regardless of local mount conditions; that is, you can use them as ground mounts where flight isn't possible.
- X-51 Nether Rocket X-TREME This is also available from the Servants of the Betrayer expansion.
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