“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale of a fateful trip that started from this city port aboard a tiny ship. The first mate was a mighty sailing man, the skipper brave and sure and five passengers set sail that day for what they thought would be a three hour tour…”
- Sherwyle Gartz, a Stormwind Harbor Fisherman
Smell that air? Yup. That’s the sea. And some other things. Gross, nasty things. Anyway, Stormwind Harbor is the newest addition to this fine city, and there is quite a bit to it. I originally had contemplated simply making a video to show off all that is here. Honestly, it’s amazing. From the massive amount of lion statues to the fact that you can get aboard any boat in the area, it’s an amazing place just to wander around. I must say, finding specific landmarks for this one was a trick, so let’s start this thing off with what the Harbor is most known for – Bugs!
The Quality of the Assurance
One thing you’ll notice fairly quick is that apart from the unfinished ships on the eastern shore, there is one ship in the harbor that doesn’t actually go anywhere. Now it’s an Icebreaker just like the one that sets sail for Northrend every few minutes or so from the other pier, but this one is firmly stationed at the harbor. The reason? Well it appears that the Assurance has a pest problem. Looking over the side on the pier, you’ll see a small rat wandering around and you’ll smile and think you’ve pieced two and two together but you’d be wrong. See these pests are bugs. Yes, bugs. Apparently that’s a reason to stop a ship from going anywhere. There is no further explanation as to what type of bug, or how bad the problem is. There doesn’t seem to be much urgency to getting this massive ship going as everyone on the ship is just sitting around.
I thought it might be some of those dang plague bugs that were causing so many issues during the Second Scourge Invasion. Getting some of those on your ship could really wreak havoc on the travel, and you’d end up docking in Northrend with a ship full of zombies – and only Marshal Isildor‘s heir would find any use for ship full of dead people. I didn’t really think this was out of the question, since the Cult of the Damned have clearly infiltrated the ships in Valiance Keep. But once again this doesn’t seem to be a priority at all to them. On the plus side they do seem to provide a place to repair and get food and drinks while hanging out at the harbor.
In all actuality, this is an Easter egg. The entire crew of the Assurance was named after the Quality Assurance team that worked on Burning Crusade, so the bugs they’re talking about are… well… software bugs that have prevented the ship from functioning correctly. This is actually one of the better Easter eggs I’ve seen in the game, simply because it works on multiple levels. It’s a computer joke, it’s an inside reference, and it provides a service in the game via shops & repair (which are absent otherwise from the harbor district.) I actually got the quality assurance and bugs thing fairly quickly, but the named after the actual QA team was something I had to look up to find out. Which was a pleasant surprise. This next however, a little less pleasant.
Fins to the Left, Fins to the Right
I’m not entirely sure where the found this thing, but supposedly (and I must stress the supposedly) someone fishing in the harbor caught it. Over on one of the piers is a giant shark. Huge really. Why the heck it was swimming around Stormwind is beyond me. There do seem to be an abundance of sharks in Azeroth. However, I guess there are weirder things than a giant shark in a harbor that’s open to an ocean. Like a giant alligator that swims through the canals. However, the really odd thing isn’t the shark but that someone fished it up. Look around at the Stormwind Harbor. There are military personnel, a massive armada of tanks and ballistae and they even escort prisoners off of ships and to the stockades from this harbor. Does this look like a good place to fish to you? I’d be nervous about doing it myself.
Sittin’ on the Dock of the Ocean
Just past the shipyard on the east end of the harbor you’ll find Steven Allen, an exhausted dock worker that simply sits in a chair with a cute little umbrella and stares out at the ocean and the lighthouse. However, it’s something he says that intrigues me the most. When you talk to him he mentions that he’s tired from working on the harbor road and that he just wants to sit for a while, drink some dwarven ale, cry some, and relax. Well that sounds nic- did he say cry? And all of a sudden I am very, very interested in what Mr. Allen was exactly doing on the harbor road that would bring him to tears while sitting on a small dock that exists only to be sat on. My mind reels at the possibilities here. Did he accidentally (intentionally?) crush some poor soul by dropping a giant stone lion on them? Is there some horrible secret behind the dock that we aren’t to know? Did his boss sexually harass him? I need answers, Steve!
Perhaps answers can be found at the large lighthouse out in the water just past where Steven is sitting. You see, on this small bit of land where the massive (and I do mean massive, the door is at least two humans tall) lighthouse stands, there is a small unmarked grave off to the side. My first guess when I saw it was that someone must have died in the construction of the lighthouse (my second guess is that the lighthouse keepers just stayed up there until they died and this is where the first one was buried.) I have to wonder if these two things are related. After all, Steven is sitting and watching the lighthouse crying and getting drunk, and someone had to die over here or maybe over on the harbor road and they just didn’t want anyone to know so they buried them way over here. Hey, you never know the health risks involved with these projects and the guys who built the harbor had to be non-union (after the whole Defias thing, can you ever see Stormwind using union-ized labor again?) So it’s possible that there are some dark secrets to this place that we don’t know about.
Thaaaat or Steven Allen is actually a 3D designer at Blizzard that was put hear as a tribute the apparently exhausting hours that went into modeling the harbor area. But I can’t imagine how likely that is! No, it’s probably the extremely paranoid, dark secret of the harbor road that the King of Stormwind doesn’t want people to know and threatened poor Steven Allen to keep his mouth shut or else thing. Definitely that one.
What Are They Keeping In There? King Kong?
Speaking of unspeakable secrets, there’s a tantalizing one here in the harbor. Over in the corner, there is this gigantic pair of doors. A massive gate to which there is no other entrance. Now there is the common everyday speculation that it’s probably just some ship holding area or a place for ship construction, but that’s only if you want to believe the official government story. Are you telling me you trust the word of Varian Wrynn? The man who threatened poor Steven Allen into silence? I thought so. The king would never tell us what he’s really got brewing behind that massive door.
While I wouldn’t put it past him to clone dinosaurs (probably with some illegal goblin machine) or capture some of the biggest monsters out there for our protection (Gamera? Mothra?), I have a pretty safe bet that’s a new weapon that will be used to defend the Alliance against any unforeseen threats like another scourge attack (or the Horde, I guess. But with diplomacy working so well between Garrosh and Varian, what are the chances of that happening?) Probably inspired by the recent discoveries within the halls of Ulduar, the King’s chief gnome scientists have discovered a way to reverse engineer the V-07-TR-0N, to construct a new defense system: the M3-G4-Z0-RD!
Yes, the M3-G4-Z0-RD is comprised of four separate machines, cleverly developed to look similar to the indigenous life in Un’Goro Crater (which are fairly feared the world over), and piloted by four expertly trained high elf rangers formerly of the Farstriders who departed angrily when the organization was taken over by the corrupted blood elves (Varian requested elves with attitude) wearing gnomish powered battle suits. The gnomes down in R&D have starting call them the Powered Rangers for short. Anyway, these four machines (Pterrordax, Diemetradon, Stegodon and Devilsaur) will assemble to form the massive fighting robot known as M3-G4-Z0-RD!
And you just thought they were building ships. Ha!