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Warlords of Draenor: Warspear and Stormshield

Anne Stickney

In Warlords of Draenor, the island of Ashran isn't just home to a potential paradise for world PvP -- it's also the location of both Alliance and Horde faction hub cities. City may be too strong of a word, however -- the two areas are more like souped up bases of operation than proper capital cities like Shattrath or Dalaran. Less giant city, more stronghold -- and slightly more spread out than the garishly charming Shrines in Mists of Pandaria -- both Warspear and Stormshield are meant to be not necessarily a home away from home, but a centrally located area for commerce and trade.

Each stronghold contains portals to every capital city for your respective faction, as well as profession outposts, an auction house, an inn, and a hub of activity for the nearby PvP action in Ashran. In a way, it's kind of nice that the action is nearby. Shattrath was a fun hub city, but it was nowhere near Halaa. Dalaran was great, but having to hop a portal to get to Wintergrasp was never the most elegant solution for players that wanted to duke it out with other players. Still, one of the major concerns for players is simply the strongholds themselves, and their proximity to areas that some people might not want to partake in. So what are these strongholds really like?

Gallery: Warlords of Draenor: Warspear and Stormshield | 40 Photos

To be perfectly honest, I've been pleasantly surprised -- and both locations don't even seem to be 100% complete just yet, although that may be part of the ambiance. As strangers on the world of Draenor, it makes sense that we wouldn't automatically be able to establish capital cities of our own, so the somewhat ramshackle appearance of both strongholds has its own unique charm that really suits the flavor of the expansion itself. All of the amenities are there, including portals to all capital cities, in case you need a quick trip home. Since garrisons appear to be getting their own hearthstones, you can bind your hearth to either Warspear or Stormshield without worrying about excessively long flight paths.

As for Ashran proper, you never really need to set foot in it, if you aren't interested in PvP. The PvP portion of Ashran is clearly designated by a border -- you leave the town, you're heading into PvP territory. The transition is made with sufficient warning and a popup window that explicitly asks you if you'd like to join the battle at hand. If you do, click accept, if you wandered over in error, hit cancel and you'll be teleported back to the safety of your own base.

To get to Ashran, you'll get an initial quest from your garrison that will fly you out to the stronghold for your faction. Once you've arrived, you're offered a tour that will usher you around and show you the noteworthy buildings.The building designs seem to be trending towards uniquely themed areas for all of the faction races, which gives the strongholds a pretty cool feel -- there's a variety of architecture and design to be had. Warspear and Stormshield may not be the grand capital cities we were expecting and hoping for, but both strongholds serve their purpose while fitting in with what's going on with Draenor. Check out the gallery for a glimpse of what Warspear and Stormshield have to offer.

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