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WoW Archivist: World of Warcraft patch 1.6 part 2

Alex Ziebart

Blackwing Lair

Blackwing Lair was the first post-launch raid instance added to the game. It was also the first point in which Blizzard's intentions for the World of Warcraft raid game became clear ... or at least much clearer than they were. As I've pointed out numerous times here in Archivist, tier 1 and tier 2 gear sets were originally available via raiding Molten Core. You had upgrades on top of upgrades within one raid instance, and nobody was really sure why Blizzard did that or its intentions were with tier gear going forward.

In the patch or two leading into patch 1.6, Blizzard culled Molten Core's loot tables, finalized the art for the gear that had already been accessible the whole time, and generally cleaned up the mess. In patch 1.6, tier 2 gear became available again via Blackwing Lair, and tier gear has worked that way ever since: one new set of armor every raid tier. Ahn'Qiraj was a curious exception, with its unnumbered tier of gear acting more as a supplement to Naxxramas gear at the end of classic WoW's life cycle, but Ahn'Qiraj gear belonged to Ahn'Qiraj.

As with many things in classic WoW, Blackwing Lair had quite a bit of staying power. It wasn't just run for its sweet, sweet purples and cast away. Blizzard kept it relevant via things such as the Ahn'Qiraj Gates quest chain, which required a speed run of Blackwing Lair (among many other things).

I feel terribly sorry for anybody who wasn't able to experience the Nefarian encounter in Blackwing Lair. Class calls were mega-cool, and I highly recommend reading up on the encounter if you've never done it.

It makes me a bit sad to think that if class calls were implemented on a boss now, all it would result in would be raids trying to exclude the class with the worst call. What? Mages could polymorph the tank!? Mages, you sit out this fight! Not all raids would do that, of course; that would be madness. But my gut says the playerbase would be more willing to do something like that now than they might have been all those years ago. I could be wrong, too.


As mentioned in last week's edition of the Archivist, one of the problems with the initial implementation of battlegrounds was that you had to physically visit the battleground portal to queue for a battle. This resulted in everybody just standing around in Ashenvale or Hillsbrad waiting for their turn to battle. Battlemasters were the first solution to that problem, and while it wasn't a perfect solution, it did last a very long time.

Battlemasters were, essentially, remote instance portals. Instead of traveling to Ashenvale to queue for Warsong Gulch, you would go to the battlemaster in your capital city. You were still tethered to that physical object you needed to use to queue to some extent, but it did offer a little more freedom. You could go do your auctioning, or you could do a few quests (provided you could get to the appropriate zone quickly from your capital).
The Darkmoon Faire

The Darkmoon Faire is almost completely unchanged from how it was in classic WoW. Blizzard added steam tonks in patch 1.9, a cannon in patch 1.10, and it has updated the card-related trinkets in every expansion. Beyond those things, the Darkmoon Faire is a nearly fully preserved relic of the WoW of 2005. I think that's actually rather cool. Cool enough to hope Blizzard doesn't update it one day? Ehhh, no.

The Silvermoon Remnant

This faction, the Silvermoon Remnant, has only been publicly referenced once. Ever. It appeared in the patch 1.6 patch notes, announced as a new faction, but it never appeared in reputation tabs. It never appeared attached to any mobs. It never had a visual impact to anything at all.

So what was it, exactly? Well, there's a possibility that the faction is just an internal flag for the world developers, and players had absolutely no real reason to be notified of its addition. In the early days of WoW, it could have simply been a shortcut, an easy way for Blizzard to denote which players should be able to interact with those NPCs in which ways. The Silvermoon Remnant would be a purely internal construct, and it mattered little to the rest of us.

There are other theories, though. The Silvermoon Remnant faction fueled theories that in the first World of Warcraft expansion, the Alliance would receive high elves as a new player race. Obviously, that didn't come to pass, but considering the Silvermoon Remnant ended up not being used externally at all, maybe that was the initial idea? That the Alliance would, in fact, end up with the high elves? Blizzard's decision to give the Horde a so-called pretty race may have ended up scrapping the Alliance's high elves.

There's no real evidence of that, though. We have no solid reason to believe that the Alliance was intended to receive the high elves as a playable race once upon a time. There are other rumors and theories about the original Burning Crusade racial choices, though, theories with far more evidence to support them and far more interesting than this. There must have been a reason why Blizzard took so long to announce the draenei as the Alliance race, right? But ... that's an Archivist for another day.

The WoW Archivist examines the WoW of old. Follow along while we discuss the lost legendary, the opening of Ahn'Qiraj, and hidden locations such as the crypts of Karazhan.

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