Taverns of Azeroth: Stormwind

I am not a World of Warcraft player. Ok, I was. We all were, really. For kids raised on freeware demos of the original, and then the epic Tides of Darkness, WoW was a natural extension for us when we were in the high freedom of secondary school and college. Perhaps in a stroke of luck for my mental health, my own WoW time did not last for more than year. In the time since, however, I’ve popped in on occasion to see how the game is holding up.

One thing I have always appreciated, especially after a lengthy stint with Hearthstone, was how well WoW treats its taverns. From the Goldshire Inn on down, WoW has not shied away from or lessened time spent on a good tavern, even going so far as to release a soundtrack of their excellent tavern tunes. Having no interest in the greater story of WoW, and no real time for another level grind, I thought, “Alas, I shall have to enjoy said pubs from afar…” Then I remembered something: free trials, baby!

And so my eager feet turned toward the lands of Azeroth with no goal save visiting as many inns and taverns as my level 10 rogue can manage!

We begin things on the Alliance side of the world, in the Eastern Kingdoms and the capital of Stormwind. Wow! I’d nearly forgotten what a massive place they’d plopped down here. Coming as a devoted LOTRO player the only comparable city, really, is Minas Tirith. Appropriately so! And like it’s analogue in Middle-earth, Stormind is chockful of pubs, taverns, inns, alehouses, dive bars, breweries, wineries, and drinkeries.

After finishing the intro tutorial, the first stop I made was in the jolly Pig & Whistle. First, it bears mentioning that I was terribly disappointed to find that the music from the aforementioned soundtrack could not be heard. Maybe the minstrel was taking the day off. Anyways, the common room was pretty standard fair. It’s partly why I chose to start with the Alliance: I’m a sucker for classic, European-ish tavern design and the P&W is just that. Wooden…well, everything; massive tankards; chandeliers; simple fixtures; kegs built for destroying enemy and liver alike.

With a belly full of Dalaran Noir, let us stump over to the other side of town…

…where we find, the Golden Keg. And it…well, it looks exactly the same really. Of course this is why I chose to make one longer post about Stormwind as a whole, rather than an shorter entry about each. While each one bears its own charm, the inns really aren’t all that different from one another. While it has a hint of dwarvish charm, the Golden Keg does little to distinguish itself from its cousin across town.

Popping over to the Mage District atop my Hearthsteed, we find a little watering hole called the Slaughtered Lamb. The layout is different, but the décor mostly remains the same: wood, wood, tankard, wood, keg, wood. Certainly not unappealing, certainly samey. Just don’t go down into the basement: here be mages and one can never be too sure one won’t end up as subjects to their experiments.

Something that must be said of World of Warcraft and its inns is that they do no want for charm. The dated presentation could be off-putting for some (and in some cases, let’s be real…it is) but on the whole the animated locales and bright colors still have got it. When its put together well, we have a merry tavern indeed. The Blue Recluse, also in the Mage District, takes the apparently standard layout package of a Stormwind inn and elevates it with bright ivy along its porch and a massive cellar full of kegs. I like this last touch because that is old English “real ale” at its finest: pours pulled all the way up from the basement.

A final stop was an unexpected one. On my way out of the city, crossing the bridge between the Mage and Trade Districts, I spot a happy sign and soon I am in a little out-of-the-way wine shop. There’s not much to it, but it’s like a final cherry on top of the booze-soaked cake. So when Stormwind, or the realms of Azeroth, seem tired and old, its such small and obscured charms that keep WoW on our radar. I look forward to many more rounds in the Taverns of Azeroth!

While I don’t necessarily have the time and energy for regular streams, I have to stop and wonder if this kind of thing (a little level 10 dorf roaming around trying not to be killed in the search for spirits) might be stream worthy.

What do you think? Would you watch a stream of tavern crawls around Azeroth?

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