In the wake of the Sunwell’s purification, a period of suspicious silence swept over the world. As if on cue, the undead Scourge launched a massive assault against the cities and towns of Azeroth, this time extending its reach far beyond the Eastern Kingdoms. Under pressure to respond with a full army, Warchief Thrall deployed an expedition force to Northrend led by Overlord Garrosh Hellscream. Meanwhile, the missing human king Varian Wrynn at last returned to Stormwind City and reclaimed his crown. He sent an equally powerful Alliance army, commanded by Bolvar Fordragon, to defeat the Lich King – and any Horde forces who would stand in their way.
The Alliance and Horde eventually led a combined offensive on the Lich King’s fortress, the Wrathgate. Before they could succeed however, Grand Apothecary Putress and his Royal Apothecary Society followers (renegade Forsaken) unleashed a new plague that killed friend and foe alike, while his traitorous counterpart, the dreadlord
Varimathras, seized the Undercity in a coup that nearly killed Sylvanas. The usurpers were slain for their vile deeds by armies of the Alliance and Horde and the Forsaken capital was restored. The debacle however, created suspicion among the Horde regarding Sylvanas’ loyalties. At the Wrathgate, many brave Alliance soldiers died at the hands of the Forsaken’s Royal Apothecary Society; including King Varian’s dear friend Bolvar Fordragon. Varian, who had always been wary of the orcs, discovered that the Royal Apothecary Society had been developing the new plague for years. The events that transpired during the battle for the Undercity convinced the human king that the Horde had been left unchecked for too long and he becomes hostile to the Horde for the rest of the campaign in Northrend.
Secrets of Ulduar
The march of Horde and Alliance armies through Northrend led to a number of victories, but these successes paled before a discovery made by the explorer Brann Bronzebeard within the ancient titan complex of Ulduar. This mysterious fortress had long served as the prison of the Old God Yogg-Saron, a being of unfathomable evil whose influence had spread into the continent of Northrend itself. With Brann’s assistance, small bands of Alliance and Horde champions infiltrated Ulduar to confront Yogg-Saron, who blasted the invaders with cryptic visions: the millennia-old creation of an artifact known as the Dragon Soul, the assassination of Stormwind’s King Llane, and a glimpse of the Lich King’s future.
Call of the Crusade
In preparation for the final offensive against the Lich King, the Argent Crusade (a union of holy warriors from the Order of the Silver Hand and the Argent Dawn) assembled a base near Icecrown Citadel to gather resources and identify the champions who would serve at the vanguard of their army. Highlord Tirion Fordring organized a tournament to test potential heroes of the Horde and the Alliance, but agents of the Scourge quickly emerged to sabotage the event. The undead attack culminated with the appearance of the monstrous crypt lord Anub’arak, who attempted to exterminate Tirion’s elite force before it could be assembled.
Fall of the Lich King
As the final battle against the Lich King approached, the human sorceress Jaina Proudmoore and the Banshee Queen Sylvanas Windrunner journeyed to the icy heart of Northrend. Both had come for different reasons: Jaina hoped to discover whether a part of her former friend and lover, Arthas Menethil, still lived; Sylvanas longed to take revenge on her old enemy. With the aid of these two heroes, Azeroth’s champions stormed Icecrown Citadel and vanquished the Lich King’s minions. Their confrontation with the Lich King involved thousands of souls consumed by Arthas’ blade, Frostmourne. Ultimately, Arthas was slain, and the heroes who triumphed over him learned a chilling truth about the existence of the undead Scourge.
The first expansion pack, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, raised the maximum level from 60 to 70 and the Wrath of the Lich King raised it from 70 to 80. This was followed later by World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, raising the maximum level from 80 to 85, and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria raised it from 85 to 90. Warlords of Draenor goes back to the earlier pattern, following the expansion theme, by raising the maximum level from 90 to 100.
The Death Knight was the first announced hero class for World of Warcraft. Hero classes are those that start the game at level 55 instead of the usual level 1. Death Knights, according to Blizzard developers, are able to fill the tank and damage per second (DPS) roles. The three Death Knight specializations are blood, frost and unholy. The blood specialization focuses on the manipulation of blood, using an enemy’s blood against them while using the Death Knights’ blood to benefit themselves. Frost specializes in control, counters and combination strikes using frost related abilities. The last specialization, unholy, focuses on poisoning your opponent and sending your pet ghoul in after your enemy. Death Knights can wear plate armor and wield weapons with rune engravings (enhancements), which are achieved through the Death Knight-only profession, Runeforging. Death Knights can choose to make their ghoul permanent and have full control over it by choosing the unholy class specialization.
Newly created Death Knights begin with a larger set of spells and abilities than new characters of other classes. They start without any talent points and must unlock available talent tiers for their level by completing quests in the Death Knight starting area in Eastern Plaguelands (called Plaguelands: The Scarlet Enclave). Players must complete these quests in order to join the rest of Azeroth. Both the Alliance and Horde factions have access to the class while Death Knights may be of any race, except Pandaren.
Instead of utilizing rage, energy, focus, or mana for combat resource systems, the Death Knight uses a new system of runes (which are displayed under the player portrait) and runic power, which is generated by using runes in other attacks. The Death Knight has two of each type of rune available (blood, unholy, and frost) for use. After a rune is used, it enters a ten second ‘cooldown’ period before it can be used again. With specific talents, the Death Knight can also turn their runes into Death Runes, which can be used as any type of rune. Additionally, runic power decays over time when the Death Knight is out of combat. The Death Knight has the option of three presences: frost, unholy and blood. Frost Presence increases damage output by a percentage and restores a percentage of damage dealt as health. Blood Presence increases threat and lowers damage taken by a percentage. Unholy Presence increases attack speed and reduces the global cool-down on Death Knight abilities. Contrary to popular belief, not all Death Knight specs could tank upon their release.
Northrend is a crescent-shaped continent in northern Azeroth. The continent is roughly half the size of the Eastern Kingdoms, but matches Outland in length and width. Although Northrend is known for its snow and ice, developers stated that only parts of the continent were frozen over. Northrend features eight zones with content for players beginning at level 68, though players may travel to Northrend at any level. Players arrive by boat (Alliance) or zeppelin (Horde) either at the Howling Fjord or the Borean Tundra zones, each located at opposite ends of the continent. Howling Fjord is home to evil half-giants called the Vrykul, who reside in Utgarde Keep, the first dungeon to be described in the expansion. The Dragonblight and Grizzly Hills zones are located in the south-central and southeast parts of the continent respectively. The Ursine Furbolgs reside in the forested Grizzly Hills. Dragonblight features the gravesites of dragons who came to the region to die. Wintergrasp is the first zone in World of Warcraft designed specifically for Player versus Player (PVP) activities, even on Player versus Environment (PvE) servers.
The forces of the Alliance, unified under King Varian Wrynn, have brought its armies to Northrend with the goal of avenging the Alliance Kingdom of Lordaeron, whose
betrayal and destruction at the hands of Prince Arthas Menethil was engineered by the Lich King. The Alliance controls Valiance Keep and Valgarde in the Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord respectively, as well as Wintergarde Keep in Dragonblight.
The Forsaken and their Banshee Queen, Sylvanas Windrunner, have also arrived with a new contagion that they hope will prove to be effective against the undead minions of the Lich King. The Forsaken are seeking vengeance for being subjected to Arthas’ magic. They have set up a military base of operations called “Vengeance Landing” and have created a settlement called “New Agamand,” both in the Howling Fjord.
The magi of Dalaran have also relocated, along with their city, to Northrend in order to deal with the rising threat of the Blue Dragonflight, led by Malygos the Spell-Weaver, and the Lich King. The city of Dalaran functions as the neutral sanctuary city for the continent, analogous to Shattrath City in Outland. Dalaran is levitating at a great height above the Crystalsong Forest zone but can be accessed by either the ground or by flying mount. The expansion also features more creatures and other enemies, such as the 4 new spirit beasts: Loque’nahak, Gondria, Skoll and Arcturis. It also introduces the vicious dragons called Proto-Drakes (dragons with short arms, huge teeth and large wings), and the gigantic dinosaur King Krush, who stalks the jungles of Sholazar Basin. According to Blizzard game designers, Arthas Menethil and Ner’zhul, combined as the titular Lich King, are the main focus of the entire expansion.