Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Archaeology for fun and profit (but mostly profit): Digmaster Shovelphlange

The virtual world of World of Warcraft is divided between the normal "zone" areas shared by all players, and the dungeon "instance" zones which are shared only by a single party (or raid) of characters. Rarespawns, interestingly, can be found anywhere, be it a normal or instanced area. Today's rarespawn is not actually found within an instance, but he does spawn in the area immediately outside one. So while not inside the Uldaman instance, today's rarespawn still properly belong to the Uldaman area.

Today's rarespawn is Digmaster Shovelphlange.

How to find the digmaster

Digmaster Shovelphlange is a rare elite goblin found in Uldaman in the Eastern Kingdoms. Uldaman is accessed from the Badlands, and in the future I will tag all dungeon entries with the zone the dungeon is located in as well.

Shovelphlange can be found in four different locations in the dig area just outside the Uldaman portal. He can be found in four of the different rooms in the dig, but does not move, so he can be easily searched for by simply checking each room in turn. He has a rather long respawn timer, and since there are several quests located in the are the odds of finding Shovelphlange alive are rather slim unless you're searching for him.

Fighting the digmaster

Shovelphlange is a hostile mob, just like the rest of the creatures in the Uldaman area. As an elite, he has a good amount of health and can be a bit of a challenge for characters too low level. However, he is a rather unsophisticated melee fighter, assuming a defensive stance and using sunder armor to debuff his opponent.

As a result, Shovelphlange shouldn't be too difficult to defeat for any class, provided you clear out any potential adds first. When defeated, Shovelphlange has not one, not two but three drops unique to him! First off, his most common drop are a pair of rather badly itemized boots. Leather with strength and stamina? I have no idea what they were thinking even back then.

His other two drops are less common, but much more interesting. The first is a nicely itemized one-handed axe which looks like a spiffy mining axe. A rather attractive item for roleplaying, even if there are other more common options. The last item is also quite neat, a helmet that looks like a mining helmet and isn't engineer-specific. There are a couple of options, one is a bind-on-pickup quest reward, and the other is a somewhat hard-to-find zone drop from the Uldaman instance itself. Whichever you choose to pursue, it is quite a cool-looking helmet for anyone who has ever dreamed of being a miner. Something to consider for Halloween, maybe?

(Keep in mind that the helmet and axe are bind-on-equip as well, so you can give them away or send them to other alts if you so wish. Or sell them.)

The lore of the digmaster

While he is not found inside the instance, Digmaster Shovelphlange is actually the only rare mob found in the Uldaman zone. A lot of old world dungeons have rarespawns inside the instance, and some actually have several. But Uldaman only has Shovelphlange. Of course, he does fit into his environment quite well.

If you have never visited the are or done the quests related to it, Uldaman is one of the three major Titan laboratories left on Azeroth, abandoned for millennia. Within lie the secrets of the Makers themselves, a fact that has attracted many malevolent beings. The major force in the dig area seems to be the Dark Iron Dwarves, and presumably Shovelphlange is an unscrupulous prospector hired by them to help in the excavation work. As twisted as they are, doubtlessly even the Dark Irons have an interest in their own origins, and their affinity to the odd creatures called Earthen.

With his title, his position in the most interesting areas of the dig and his elite status, I speculate that Shovelphlange is the overseer of the entire operation, responsible for making sure the equipment works and everything flows smoothly. Doubtless he is not the planner behind it, nor does he have any form of supreme authority, but I will guess that he is the guy making sure things blow up good and the excavation doesn't collapse on their heads. He was probably recruited from some less moral goblin cartel, like the Venture Co.

With three unique drops and a good spot in lore, Digmaster Shovelphlange is a cool rare. I hope he survives into Cataclysm and can receieve a shiny new goblin model (maybe giving him that helmet?) but we'll see, as he future is still clouded.

Until next time, don't let the dig collapse.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Great Father Arctikus - Ice troll warlord

Circumstances beyond my control and a severe case of writer's block have messed with my update schedule lately. To everyone reading this, I'm very sorry for that and will try to do better in the future. I was recently re-motivated by finding and photographing three more rarespawns I was missing in-game, which made me very happy. I'm not sure I'll reach completion before Cataclysm arrives, but I'm going to try!

Anyway, onward to today's entry.

Interestingly enough, starter area rares are often more interesting than those found in secondary leveling zones. For some reason, many memorable critters exist in the starter areas which have some piece of lore, a quest, unique loot or just look interesting, whereas rarespawns in the level range of 20-40 rarely have any of that. Today we're visting yet another rare mob found in the dwarven homeland of Dun Morogh, and a quite interesting one at that!

This post is about Great Father Arctikus.

Where to find Arctikus

Great Father Arctikus is a rare mob troll found inside Frostmane Hold in Dun Morogh in the Eastern Kingdoms.

Frostmane Hold is not very large, just your average-sized cavern complex. Arctikus will patrol around inside, usually walking around one of the larger chambers. Since he is on a very short respawn timer (like most starter area rarespawns), this means that he is rather easy to find.

Combat and loot

Unlike many non-elite rares, Arctikus can create a bit of a problem for an unprepared player encountering him. He is level 11, a good 3-4 levels higher than anything else in the Frostmane area, meaning a character doing quests around those lower levels may get in trouble. Furthermore he is fortified by a paladin-like Devotion Aura which reduces physical damage done to him and hits quite hard.

His most dangerous ability, however, is that he has a pair of healing spells. One is a heal-over-time and the other is a heal which will restore him to 100% health. None of his abilities pose a danger if you are close to his level or higher, but engaging him at a lower level may end up very messy. Fully restoring his health before chopping your character down is something he is perfectly capable of. Interesting how his abilities are Paladin-like, eh?

For those adventurers lucky enough to encounter and kill Arctikus at the appropriate level, he has two unique pieces of loot! One is a simple white-quality belt, and the other is a simple mace. Neither is very exciting, but it is always nice to find unique pieces of loot.

What's his story?

Compared to many rarespawns, Great Father Arctikus has a place in lore. His title and the names of his drops were good indications, but in this case we actually have a confirmation: Arctikus is the leader and ruler of the Frostmane Tribe. It's always great to find reference to a rarespawn in lore, and this confirms his place as the "big bad" of Dun Morogh, sending out his warriors to attack the dwarves and gnomes.

As with most ice trolls, Arctikus also got something of a makeover with the release of Wrath of the Lich King. With the creation of the new, beefy ice troll model used for the Drakkari and other trolls in Northrend, even their old world cousins received some attention and got upgraded. This makes sense, as according to lore the Frostmane are closely related to the Drakkari. As with the new forest troll models previously implemented, the female trolls look the same as normal jungle trolls. A shot of Arctikus' old model can be seen in the lore link above.

Finally, Arctikus is one of few rare mobs that has some unique lines. I didn't even notice this the first time I ran into him, but when he attacks you he will shout out a line in the troll language.

I must confess that I didn't actually go back with a troll character to learn what it is he's saying. Instead I just looked it up online. According to WoWhead observers, his two possible lines are:

"You dare defile Frostmane Hold, [race]. Prepare to die!"


"Oh, we are going to get along just fine, [name]."

I love that he has these extra lines as well, they really cement him as a unique individual within the Frostmane community. I wish more mobs had little touches like this!

In closing, Great Father Arctikus is an awesome rarespawn. He has a great model, a solid place in lore, unique drops (which fit with the lore) and even some quotes! I love this guy and think everyone who hasn't seen him should go look for him.

Until next time, watch out for troll ambushes;


Friday, August 13, 2010

Rare mobs will make you... jump, jump! Takk the Leaper

It's been a good while since I feature a rarespawn that was more than a curisosity, so I figured today would be a good day to present another semi-famous one. Today's rarespawn is part of a group of old world rarespawn raptors found in several zones of Kalimdor, connected through something I will talk about at the tail end of this review. So then, on with the show.

Glimpses of Azeroth presents Takk the Leaper:

(No, I didn't race change. It was halloween, and Melisandra was in a pirate costume!)

Who is Takk and where can I find it?

Takk the Leaper is an elite rare mob raptor found in the Barrens, on Kalimdor.

Takk is found on and near the ridge in the northern Barrens close to the Sludge Fen. It roams around a bit, wandering on a small patrol path. Takk can appear in several spots, including under the large tree pictured above, right at the slope down towards Durotar. Takk is easily distinguishable from any other raptor in the Barrens by his dark grey coloration, which is very eye-catching!

Worthy of a hunter

Takk is a quite popular rarespawn to seek out and tame for hunters. It is only level 19 and not elite, making it accessible early. Furthermore, Takk has a special dark grey raptor skin shared with only two other kinds of raptors in the game. The first are deviate raptors within the Wailing Caverns, and the second are Gundrak raptors in Zul'drak.

Once, Takk had a very fast movement speed when tamed, and was thus a choice pet for many hunter stables. He could chase down enemies rapidly, a very handy trait in PvP. After the pet normalization, however, Takk has the same movement speed as any pet. However, because of this, should you want to have this color of raptor but don't want to take the time to hunt Takk down, you can grab a deviate stalker from the Wailing Caverns at anytime. These are not elite, while Takk is one, so should be easier to tame as well. Still, finding and taming a rarespawn is a reward in itself for me, as I love the thrill of the hunt. As usual, for more information on raptors as pets, consult Petopia, a brilliant resource site.

For non-hunters, slaying Takk is an easy business. While Takk is an elite, the only special ability of the raptor is a charge. It may cause some trouble for a melee character, but a ranged class should be fine. There is no special reward for slaying Takk (anymore, see below!) apart from the standard green-quality item.

Lore section

Takk is an interesting case. Due to the coloration shared with the corrupted raptors in the Wailing Caverns, one can speculate that it is another beast touched by the strange, nightmarish powers emanating from Naralex's sleep. However, Takk dwells quite far from the Caverns, and there are documented cases of raptors of this color elsewhere. Mayhap Takk is simply a rare color variation, naturally occuring. Interestingly it has been reported that Takk drops both intact raptor horns and a raptor head for two separate Barrens quests, meaning Takk seems to be a fairly normal raptor apart from its color.

The really interesting thing about Takk, of course, is that Blizzard chose to immortalize this rarespawn in the form of a non-combat pet - the Leaping Hatchling. Resembling a miniature Takk with a special "leaping" idle animation, this pet was implemented in Wrath of the Lich King. At first, the pet dropped from Takk itself, meaning that the rarespawn was suddenly under constant siege by people wanting the pet and farmers wanting to sell it. After a short while, however, this was changed so that the pet is instead obstained from a clickable item called "Takk's nest". The nest can be found in the same area as Takk, but is on a wholly independent spawn timer. Thus Takk can now live in relative peace again.

Does the presence of a nest and a hatchling mean Takk is a female? I have no idea! I have read nothing to indicate which gender cares for the nest among WoW raptors, and because of this lack of information I have gone with neutral pronouns this time.

Takk is one of those famous rarespawns, in their own way. Many hunters, especially Horde ones, can tell stories of hunting for this beast back in the day. And Takk is definently a good-looking creature to call your pet. Add to that the fact that Takk has a non-combat pet made in its honor, and you have another winner.

Until next time!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Thunder lizards of the Barrens: Thunderstomp

Thunder lizards have been an important feature of Kalimdor ever since Warcraft III. As soon as your Horde refugees reached the new continent you (with a little help from Thrall) had to fight herds of these dangerous lightning-spitting beasties. These creatures seem to be a natural part of the fauna of Kalimdor, with no real connection to any corrupting influence. They're just there, just like the kodo.

Today's rarespawn is Thunderstomp.

What is Thunderstomp, and where do I find it?

Thunderstomp is a rare mob thunder lizard found in the Barrens of Kalimdor.

Thunderstomp can be found in the area close to the path leading to Dustwallow Marsh. Thunderstomp wanders a large area here and can be found almost anywhere east of the north-south road and south of the road into Dustwallow. Thunderstomp is a distinctive dark green in color, quite different from the reddish normal thunder lizards, and this combined with the size of the lizards make it an easy mob to spot.

Hunting the great lizards

Thunderstomp is a hostile mob and will attack anyone that gets close. It attacks by spitting a lightning bolt which jumps between enemies and with an (appropriate) Thunderclap which does AoE damage. However, neither of these abilities are very dangerous, and Thunderstomp is an easy mob to defeat for any class.

Unfortunately, thunder lizards are still not tameable by hunters. Thus, there is not much choice between slaying Thunderstomp, or letting it be. If defeated, Thunderstomp yields a generic magic item.

What is Thunderstomp's story?

As I said in the introduction, thunder lizards seem to be a quite natural form of animal life on Kalimdor. They could be descended from the stegadons of Un'Goro crater, with whom they share the distinctive back plates. In the real world, it is believed that stegosaur dinosaurs used these odd plates to control their body heat. This would be an interesting explanation for the plates of stegadons and thunder lizards as well, considering they live in very hot climates where a reptile can be in danger of overheating.

Thunder lizards would seem to be mostly herbivores, although it is possible they can kill and eat smaller animals with their lightning discharges. However, I think it is more reasonable to suspect that the electricity, large body size and defensive spikes are more likely the signs of a slow-moving herbivore. Thus, while Thunderstomp is hostile, it probably isn't out to eat you.

Thunderstomp is probably the largest, dominant thunder lizard in the area where it lives. The distinctive coloration could be the result of age.

I like rares like Thunderstomp. It looks very nice (even if the thunder lizard model looks rather bad up close, it looks good at a distance) and has an appropriate name and attack. "Visually distinctive" actually goes a long way just to make a rarespawn cooler in my book. Next time you visit the Barrens, look for this guy. He probably won't be there after Cataclysm.

Until next time;

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sad-eyed bog beast of the wetlands: Mirelow

Today's rarespawn is another bog beast (AKA "plant elemental"). These creatures are vaguely patterned after such legendary comics characters as the Swamp Thing and the Man-Thing (and by extension their grand-daddy the Heap), and this shows since they combine several design elements from those characters. Otherwise, the concept of plant-like shambling monsters are also present in Dungeons & Dragons, most likely another source of inspiration.

This entry concerns Mirelow.

Knee-deep in muck

Mirelow is a rare mob bog beast found in the Wetlands, in the Eastern Kingdoms.

Mirelow is somewhat tricky to locate. It can be found wandering along the waterways of the western part of the Wetlands, only north of the road to Menethil Harbor. Without an addon that locates rarespawns, Mirelow does stick out from the other bog beasts in the area by being a mixture of green and brown (instead of pure green).

Combat and abilities

Mirelow is a very simple combatant, as are most level 20-ish rarespawns. It is not an elite, does not hit very hard, and has only one special ability (Entangling Roots, resembling the druid spell). Mirelow has very little health and can be slain like any common mob in the area.

It should not pose a danger to anyone to defeat, even at the appropriate level. When defeated, Mirelow will of course drop a better-than-average level appropriate item, usually an uncommon quality magic item. It has no special drops.

Since it's so easily slain and wanders over a very large area, Mirelow was quite tricky for me to locate. I only lucked on it once, during nighttime (not in itself unusual, many of my rare 'finds' occur during night). Finding and photographing it may take some dedicated stalking.


Mirelow is not a special rare by any stretch. I cannot think of any special lore for it that doesn't apply to any other bog beast in the Wetlands. It may be one of the tainted elementals that have arisen recently in the area which Rethiel the Greenwarden fights against.

In Mirelow's defense, though, I will say that the particular color scheme used for it (which you normally don't see used much) looks very nice. I still like the bog beast model (with the little details such as the flowers on the upper torso), although it could of course benefit hugely from being spruced up. Mirelow also looks like cool creeping through the boggy waterways of the Wetlands, giving the whole scene an almost eerie look.

All in all, a not-very-special rarespawn that at least looks cool!

Until next time;


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I've been working on preparing more posts ahead of time. Ironically this has meant a few missed posts (again). However I'm convinced that in the long run, the less time I have to spend editing and preparing each post will make the blog run smoother.

Sorry for the choppy update schedule, and hang in there!