Saturday, October 31, 2020

Terms And Conditions Apply

Ever have one of those dreams where the faster you run the slower you go? No, me neither. I think that only happens in the movies.

Unlocking the Vulpera allied race in World of Warcraft is turning out a bit like it, though. Certainly not how I imagined it would go.

I thought I understood it. As I'd heard it, originally, you had to own the Battle for Azeroth expansion, complete a bunch of fox quests and get your reputation to Exalted with their faction, the Voldunai.


Then, with Shadowlands looming on the horizon, Blizzard rolled BfA into the base game along with every other discarded expansion. And, just to sweeten the deal, the rep requirement got dropped as well. 

Next, Shadowlands got pushed back, as we now know to November 23rd, but the pre-patch turned up a few weeks ahead of schedule anyway, bringing with it all the major changes to the game that supposedly came as part of the package. 

At that point I had a clear and simple vision. I'd subscribe for a month, knock out whatever quests you had to do to unlock the foxfolk, then I'd make a Vulpera to try out the new tutorial zone, Exile's Reach, and the subsequent squished levelling experience. I imagined ripping through the unlock quests on one of my higher-level characters in half an hour or so then settling down to pick fur and eye colors.

Yeah.That didn't happen.


First I found out that although the rep grind wasn't needed any more you still needed to have the achievement "Secrets in the Sand" complete and safely recorded on your permanent record. 

Okay, one achievement. That doesn't sound so bad, does it? In MMORPGs it's not unusual to get achievements for things you didn't even notice you'd done. Not this one.

To get the Secrets in the Sand achievement you need to complete the full zone storyline for Vol'Dun. That's a seven-part sequence where every quest but the final boss fight comes complete with several sub-quests of its own. The commentaries I read all said it would take a few hours to finish and they weren't kidding. In total, there are around eighty quests in Secrets of the Sands!


Still, a few hours is just one good session, isn't it? And with the new level anywhere you like system I could just pop over to Vol'Dun and knock the whole thing out in an evening, right? Yeah... no.

When Blizzard said you could level up in any expansion you liked they didn't mean any zone of any expansion you liked. Or maybe they did. It's hard to be sure. 

If you let Chromie, the Bronze Dragon that pretends to be a gnome, tailor you to fit an expansion of your choice then, yes, you pretty much can pick your zone, within that expansion. If you just wander around the world on your own recognizance, though, the previous rules still apply. 


Don't ask me which rules. I gave up trying to work it out ages ago. All I can say is that without Chromie time running, zones have level ranges. Or some of them do. 

Battle for Azeroth, which isn't included in Chromie's collection, is supposed to be the default now to go from ten to fifty. If you don't actively try to avoid it, the game funnels you there when you leave Exile's Reach and keeps you there until you're ready for Shadowlands.

Vol'Dun, the zone where the Vulpera live, is flagged for levels thirty-five to fifty. When i found that out it changed things but I thought I could still get right on it. I'd get my highest character, a dwarf hunter, squished to thirty-seven, to do it.


Except, of course, he's Alliance and the Vulpera are a Horde-only race. (For good reasons, as it turns out). But achievements are account-wide so maybe... 

Nope. Big, fat nope. Secrets of the Sands is a Horde-only achievement because the Alliance get their own Vol'dun storyline. Which just happens to involve some truly appalling colonial racism and near-genocide... against the Vulpera.

So, very much no dwarves welcome there. Which left me where I've been these last few posts, levelling a fresh goblin shaman to thirty-five so she could go to Vol'dun as a representative of the Horde, complete the zone storyline, get the achievement and - finally - unlock the vulpera race. 

Too easy! Way, way too easy!


I spent most of today on the questline. It's very good. I enjoyed it a lot. Which is just as well because if I was expecting to cap it off with a stint in character creation followed by a happy couple of hours running round as a fox, well, then I was going to be disappointed, wasn't I?

The moment I got the achievement I hearthed back to Orgrimmar to tick whatever final box I needed and...

... after about an hour of online research...

.... and a lot of running to and fro between the embassy and Grummash Hold....

... trying to talk to a whole bunch of people who didn't want to talk to me...

... with much reading and re-reading of my quest journal...

I finally discovered you have to have a level fifty character before you can get the actual quest that starts the Vulpera unlock questline!

Seriously, could someone not have mentioned that right at the start? Really?

Not to go into a rant (and I know longtime WoW players will find this at best an exaggeration and at worst heresy) but the out-of-game resources for the game are some of the most confusing, misleading, incomplete and often just plain wrong that I've ever had to try to use anywhere. 

There are so many assumptions made, so often. So much is taken as read or just not thought worth mentioning at all. I've learned the hard way that the best information is hidden in the comments, where other players, who've already learned the hard way that the headline "facts" are half-baked and incomplete, exercise some social responsibility by explaining what you really need to do.


It would be rash to say I now know exactly what's left to do before I get this blasted fox. I think I know but I wouldn't be all that surprised to find you can only do the quests after midnight or during a full moon.

I have to be getting close, though, surely. My Shaman dinged forty on the Vol'Dun storyline. She's got another ten levels to go. I can do that. The ironic thing is, I plan on staying in Vol'Dun for a while, which means she'll most likely end up Exalted with the Voldunai anyway! 

It'll be nice to have a max level character, I guess. For the couple of weeks before Shadowlands raises the cap to sixty, anyway. I wasn't planning on it but I'm not unhappy. 

You have to take your pleasures where you can, these days.


  1. After having read your post and --more importantly-- seen your screenshots, all I can think of is the old chestnut "Llama Llama Duck".

    1. I had never heard of Llama Llama Duck before. I just YouTubed it and now I'm going to have it in my head all day, so thanks for that!

  2. It's entirely possible nobody noticed you need a level 50 character before now, because most players were long-since past that mark and accelerating. It would only be now that this is a problem.

    1. Yes, the Vulpera were added long after BfA began so I guess almost everyone playing then would have had a max level character. It also occured to me that the supposedly onerous rep grind would quite likely have been finished for many people before they even got the Secret of the Sands achievement, because Vol'Dun is stuffed with quests and they mostly give that rep.

  3. One of the awkward things about using the Wowhead guides, for example, is that important bits of information are located in other entries. The quick facts (on the right) for the starter unlock quest in Orgrimmar will tell you it requires level 50, but that information isn't repeated in the guide. Sometimes the guides feel more like hasty notes instead of a proper guide.

    Even the in-game clickable allied race banner that lists things about the races don't mention the level requirement. :/

    1. I'm used to both the EQII and GW2 wikis, which are incredibly well-curated. Both of them make a point of always cross-linking clearly and of explaining any anomalies. Also the Zam site for EQ is incredibly reliable. Added to that, all of those are visually far clearer, better designed and less cluttered. All the WoW sites seem to use far too much unecessary color and have very old-fashioned design principles.

      The in-game information is generally not that bad but there seems to be a conflict between trying to explain things clearly and keeping everything couched in lore-appropriate language. I'm not surprised they don't mention the level requirement on the banner - they seem not to like to draw attention to those kind of mechanics.

  4. I think the pre-patch just messed with all kinds of things that people either didn't know about or guide writers couldn't be bothered to research because they figured nobody cares about "the old stuff" at this point. Not sure all of it is intentional on Blizzard's part either.

    My husband's warrior and my monk levelled to 50 together for example, and he has access to world quests now while I don't. We've been trying to research what's needed to unlock them but on paper I seem to meet all the requirements - I'm just barred from them for some mysterious reason while he is not. Fun times!

    1. The whole set-up is so overwrought, it's hard to say what's an ommission by the developers, what's ignorance on behalf of the player and what's an outright bug. I suspect all long-running MMOs are something like this but it does seem to be exaggerated to an almost comedic degree in WoW.


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