On Thursday, everyone that steps onto a boat to Northrend is going to have to make a choice. In Northrend, you see, Blizzard decided to split up the server rush in the starting zone by creating not just one, but TWO separate zones for levels 68 to 72.
Unfortunately for those of us not in the Beta, we can’t trial run the zones – but there’s a fair amount of information out there to help us pick and choose before we leave. BRK has a similar post (though Alliance based and tongue in cheek), so I’ll try to cover a few of the other things that might influence your decision.
There are two boats that go to Northrend. One leaves from the Stormwind Harbor and goes to the Borean Tundra, the other leaves from Menethil Harbor and goes to the Howling Fjord.
There are also two zeppelin that go to Northrend. One leaves from Orgrimmar and goes to the Borean Tundra, the other leaves from The Undercity and goes to the Howling Fjord.
There is also a transport that goes between the two zones.
After you pick which zone you want to start in – and even if you just pick which one you want to check out first – you probably want to log out near the appropriate mass transportation device to get there. Rememeber that Thursday is likely going to have a lot of lag, a lot of quest competition, and a lot of idiots in /yell, so be prepared to do more exploring and less questing (unless you’re trying to break a leveling record). Also, you can turn off /yell by right clicking on the general tab of your chat window, going to settings, and unchecking the box by Yell. This will ONLY turn off PC yells – you’ll still hear NPC yells.
The Borean Tundra
The Borean Tundra is located on the western edge of Northrend, a flat, rugged landscape dominated by ice. It is the home of the Tuskarr, whose capitol of Kaskala is under siege, and contains a strong Nerubian and Drakkari Troll presence as well. There are also Naga living here, on the south end of the area, who like the isolated southern peninsula for its ability to keep an eye on anyone approaching over the open ocean.
The horde will find themselves at Warsong Hold – under the command of Grom’s son Garrosh Hellscream. They are loosely allied with the Tuskarr, as well as witht he Taunka, an offshoot race to the Tauren thought to have been lost long ago. The Zeppelin from Orgrimmar actually docks inside the Hold itself.
The major alliance settlement is Valiance Keep, and the boat from Stormwind goes directly here. The keep is constantly under attack by members of the undead Scourge. Alliance also have access to the Fizzcrank Airstrip, a gnome airport in the Tundra, complete with evil sentient robot enemies!
The Howling Fjord
The Howling Fjord is located on the opposite end of Northrend from the Tundra, forming Daggercap Bay, where the forces of Arthas originally landed on Northrend. A rugged, jagged terrain marked by dark forests and treacherous rocks, most of the zone is thick with wildlife, as it is slightly more temperate than the rest of the frost-ridden continent. The Fjord gets its name from the wind that races in from the sea on three sides, producing a constant howl.
It is here that the stranded Alliance forces set up the outpost of Valgarde, the center of Alliance activity on Northrend. This is the only Northrend region dominated by humans and dwarves, thanks to Valgarde and the temperate climate that allows for farming in some areas. You’ll also find frost wolves, Drakkari trolls, nerubians, murlocs, wendigo, the Vrykul, and Iron Dwarves. Also located here is the first 5 man instance encountered in Lich King – Utgarde Keep – the stronghold of the Vrykul.
The major Horde hub in the Howling Fjord is Vengeance Landing, the military outpost for The Hand of Vengeance, a Forsaken organization set up in opposition to the Alliance. Also in the Howling Fjord is the Forsaken town of New Agamand, named for the Agamand family who perished and now haunt the mills in Tirisfal. New Agamand is the front line of the Forsaken fight against the Scourge.
Howling Fjord also has the turkeys for the Turkey Shoot achievement.
What the Annas are Doing
Annorah will be leveling with my husband’s Paladin, and hopefully heading to the Tundra. Aelflaed is heading to the Howling Fjord, because of the history, and because of Tirion Fordring, and because that’s where many of the Riders are going.
How Do I Choose?
- Flip a coin. Both of these zones are rich in quests and interesting stuff to do and explore.
- Choose with your friends. If your bestest guild buddy just LOVES the idea of the Vrykul… tag along with him or her. There’s strength in numbers!
- Choose based on lore. Garrosh Hellscream, Tirion Fordring, and Sylvanas Windrunner are all making appearances – if you (or your character) have ties to them, go where they are!
- Go where its less crowded. It’s all going to be crowded, but most quick surveys I’ve looked at suggest Howling Fjord will be slightly more so.
- Pick the pretty one. Check out both zones and go with the one that you think is prettiest.
- Pick where your trainers are. Check out this link, find where your profession trainers are, and go there!
- Do both! (though you’ll have to pick one first)
Hopefully braving the lag, server resets, overcrowding, quest camping, and other general patch day, expansion asshattery won’t discourage you too much from seeing all the wonderful things that Northrend has to offer. I’m likely not going to try questing much that first day. I love exploring, getting a feel for new zones, drinking in the scenery – so I’ll be doing that, and hoping that I don’t have to run from too many big nasty beasties!
*All the images from this post are from WoWWiki. Annas do not have a beta key.
- Godmodding and Griefing (116)
- On Privacy, Real ID’s and Roleplay (49)
- XX and XY in RP (47)
- Population Disparity (34)
- Tanking Perceptions (33)