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Robert's not-so-original WoW miscellany

Allison Robert

About 10 years ago, a guy called Ben Schott published a little book of completely random facts on equally random subjects. It was called Schott's Original Miscellany, and it went on to become a surprise bestseller for the simple reason that it was really fun to read.

I think it's high time for a World of Warcraft version. Some of these you may know, particularly if you've played the game for a long time, but I hope some are new.

Five months into The Burning Crusade, priests had the unique distinction of having the most popular 31-point talent in the game (Shadowform) and the least popular 31-point talent (Lightwell).

The phrase "Tichondrius is not for you" did not debut with the Arena system, as is popularly believed. The earliest reports trace it to a sign held up at BlizzCon 2005.

Nova from the aborted Starcraft: Ghost is in the game, on a small island floating off the southern coast of Netherstorm at 41,82. She is rarely visible, but a small shrine on the island flashes the letters of her name.

You can still see WoW Insider's first-ever post, published on Nov. 23, 2005. It was immediately declared "the worst thing that ever happened to WoW Insider."

If you were looking for a female player in classic World of Warcraft, she was most likely to be playing a night elf druid. She was least likely to be playing a troll or orc shaman.

Azeroth had two moons until the release of The Burning Crusade, at which point one of them mysteriously vanished. The moon removed was known as the Blue Child, and players are still in the dark as to why it disappeared. It is briefly visible again during the Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest quest chain.

Druids began life in the classic beta with an instant threat wipe in cat form called Play Dead. When hunters appeared, the skill was given to them in the form of Feign Death.

Battleground win percentages for all realms and all brackets on Dec. 1, 2010, according to, were as follows:
  • Alterac Valley Alliance wins 51% to Horde's 49%
  • Arathi Basin Horde wins 65% to Alliance's 35%
  • Eye of the Storm Horde wins 59% to Alliance's 41%
  • Strand of the Ancients Horde wins 54% to Alliance's 46%
  • Warsong Gulch Horde wins 55% to Alliance's 45%
The female tauren did not start the game with its present dance (the electric slide). It started with a sort of Irish step dance similar to the female dwarf, which can be seen at 1:03 on this video.

Crystalsong Forest was originally meant to have hosted the Argent Tournament, but Dalaran was so crowded that developers were afraid of putting another busy port of call for players in the zone. The tournament relocated to Icecrown, and Crystalsong ended up oddly empty for the length of the expansion.

The Key to Salem's Chest is one of WoW's lost quests, most recently acknowledged in game with the vrykul archaeology item Intricate Treasure Chest Key. The Dark Cleric Salem's Chest is still in the game but has never been opened.

Players initially believed that Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street was a woman. CMs ran with the joke by telling Ghostcrawler that "she" had left her purse in their offices. When he was introduced at BlizzCon 2008, players were outraged to discover that they had been behaving marginally better on the forums for nothing.

Class popularity in April 2007, according to the paper Real Genders Choose Fantasy Characters: Class Choice in World of Warcraft and citing, was as follows:
  • Hunter 17%
  • Rogue 13%
  • Warrior 13%
  • Mage 12%
  • Paladin 10%
  • Warlock 10%
  • Priest 9%
  • Shaman 8%
  • Druid 8%
Class popularity in January 2012, according to, fell out this way:
  • Paladin 13% (+3%)
  • Hunter 12% (-5%)
  • Druid 11% (+3%)
  • Death knight 11% (Obviously, not around during The Burning Crusade)
  • Mage 11% (-1%)
  • Warrior 10% (-3%)
  • Priest 10% (+1%)
  • Rogue 8% (-5%)
  • Shaman 8% (Interestingly, the only class that does not seem to have gained or lost representation since early Burning Crusade)
  • Warlock 6% (-4%)
General trends in class representation All pure DPS classes have lost representation, although the mage has suffered least. Three of four healing classes were the least represented in early The Burning Crusade and now run the gamut from most-played to just above least. Two tanking classes (the paladin and druid) have gained representation, one (the warrior) has slipped, and one (the death knight) has settled into 11% representation after falling from a high of 17% at one point in Wrath of the Lich King.

Azshara was originally meant to have hosted a 40-man battleground similar to Alterac Valley, the Azshara Crater. The entrance was located on the Forlorn Ridge. The files are still in the game, and it may yet appear.

The How to Kill Nefarian guide (the original Nefarian, not his Cataclysm version) was the winning entry for a web design class assignment that challenged students to be the first to reach 100,000 hits.

Questing in WoW was originally intended to supplement grinding as a means of reaching the level cap. Extensive questing was added after developers realized that players really liked them.

Thotbott was the game's go-to resource for years before being supplanted by Wowhead. It was originally programmed by the player Aftathott of the EverQuest guild Afterlife, the major competitor to Jeffrey (Tigole) Kaplan's guild Fires of Heaven. Interestingly, Afterlife is also responsible for the dragon kill points (DKP) system from which most modern raiding loot distribution systems originate.

In-game memorials Several people have been remembered in WoW for their contributions to the game and community or importance to a Blizzard employee. For some reason, half are in Hillsbrad.
  • Shrine of the Fallen Warrior Located southwest of the Crossroads in the Northern Barrens, the Shrine of the Fallen Warrior is a memorial to Michel Koiter, a Blizzard employee who died during the development of the classic game. The orc seen on the bier is a copy of his character from the WoW beta.
  • Ahab Wheathoof and Elder Wheathoof Both are memorials to a young player named Ezra Chatterton, who made a special trip to Blizzard headquarters as part of the Make-A-Wish program after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. He voiced Ahab in addition to designing this quest and the season 2 Arena crossbow. Ezra passed away in October 2008, but his main, Ephoenix, is now Elder Wheathoof and can be seen with his pet phoenix in Thunder Bluff during the Lunar Festival (which is to say, now). Ahab can always be seen at 48,53 north of Bloodhoof Village in Mulgore.
  • Rousch A dwarf at 61,88 in the Hillsbrad Foothills (the extreme southeastern edge of the zone), kneeling at a headstone. This is a memorial to Anthony Ray Stark, a friend of several Blizzard employees. The dwarf is a copy of Stark's main.
  • Captain Armando Ossex Another NPC in Hillsbrad at 43,45. Very little information is known about this player, but his name was reportedly Ossex in real life, and he loved Alterac Valley. Fittingly, he's one of the Stormpike Guard NPCs outside the Alliance's geographic entry to the Battleground.
  • Crusader Bridenbrad Named for Bradford Bridenbecker, the city manager of La Habra, Calif., and the brother of Blizzard employee Rob Bridenbecker. The quest series associated with him is widely considered of WoW's best and most moving, and you can still read both his brother's and Chris Metzen's comments on it. If you haven't done that yet, please do.
  • Caylee Dak Named for Dak Krause, a player who died of leukemia at age 28. This NPC is permanently located on the Aldor Rise in Shattrath with pet Dusky and is the subject of the quest Alicia's Poem.
  • Jesse Morales This is the third memorial to be found in Hillsbrad, but sadly, another about whom relatively little is known. Like Koiter, Morales was a Blizzard employee who passed away while classic WoW was being developed.
Not long after Wrath of the Lich King's launch, the mob most likely to kill players was Loken, the end boss of Halls of Lightning, followed by Sapphiron in Naxxramas. Paladin healers had particular issues with the fight, to the point that Ghostcrawler gave them some strategy tips.

According to highly informal discussions among raiding players, the three worst trash clears in the game have been Ahn'Qiraj-40 (to the point that players who exploited to avoid it were actually defended), Serpentshrine Cavern when it still had a 45-minute respawn timer, and scripted Mount Hyjal trash waves.

The server with the worst recorded faction imbalance was Silvermoon (EU) at 96% Alliance and 4% Horde as of autumn 2008. Since then, faction balance has improved to 94% Alliance and 6% Horde.

The original Varok Saurfang NPC in Orgrimmar could be Mind Controlled by Alliance and his Execute skill used at any time he had a full rage bar. Results were predictable.

The swamp in Black Morass was once too deep for gnomes to navigate without swimming.

One of Goon Squad's earliest high-profile pranks was "kidnapping" the Theramore and Auberdine flightmasters and holding them for a 3,000 gold ransom. This lasted for five hours until a game master intervened and killed both flight masters, forcing them to respawn.

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