Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stormwind vs Ironforge – which one do you prefer?

Where do you feel most at home in the game? And I’m not talking about where you put your hearthstone – most level 70s have it in Shattrath to get access to the free portals.

I think about the place where you normally go when you need to do errands – like visiting AH in combination of sorting your bank and getting repairs and reagents. The place where you’ve been so many times that you could keep your eyes closed navigating in the streets, since you know all the turns and ways by instinct.

To me the player base seems to be split in those two categories: Ironforge lovers and Stormwind lovers. It’s just the same way it is about dogs and cats in real life. There are the dog-preferring kind of people and the cat-fans. They don’t necessarily have reasons for those preferences, it’s just something you’re born into.

Until now I’ve been a Stormwinder, probably mostly out of habit. I simply know this place after spending so much time here. Zakesh, my co-innkeeper, on the other hand is a sworn friend of Ironforge. When we discussed this a while ago it came to my mind that I didn’t have any logical arguments for my habit to go to SW.

Because of this I did some research to once for all determine which place is best. And here’s the result:

1. Distance to facilities
I’ve measured a few walks I usually do whenever I’m in town. When possible I used my epic mount. I haven’t tried to make any kind of speed record – you can probably do those distances faster if you try. My intention was to make it as realistic as possible – to do it the way I always do it.

Portal place (where I appear) – bank
Ironforge: 37 sec
Stormwind: 44 sec

Comment: It may not seem a big difference, those 7 seconds, but trust me, they feel very long and annoying, especially if you count in the quite impractical placing of the portal in Stormwind, way up in the mage tower. You have to watch out so that you don’t run in the wrong direction, ending up in a wall instead of going outdoors. And there’s this annoying ramp you have to run down – or jump, and then accept some loss of hp. This is a strong argument for Ironforge in my opinion.

Bank – battleground masters
Ironforge: 40 sec
Stormwind: 1 minute
Comment: It’s very annoying to have to run the whole way inside the building in Stormwind without my mount.

Auctionhouse – mailbox
Ironforge: 12 sec
Stormwind: 13 sec
Comment: Not a big deal.

Bank – reagent vendor:
Ironforge: 22 sec
Stormwind: 13 sec
Comment: To be fair there is a reagent vendor guy closer to the bank in Ironforge, just by the inn. I guess about at the same distans as in Stormwind. But he's only got arcane powder, he hasn't got the vials I need as an alchemist. To get them I have to go to a shop near the fp, at least I haven't found anyone closer. This is very annoying. I tend to buy to few of them and often run a few times between the bank, AH, postbox and reagent vendor when I'm up for making some drugs.
Bank – repair guy
Comment: I forgot to use my timer on this one. But I reckon it's about the same. At first I was frustrated in Ironforge since I only found the smith standing in the cellar. I thought it was ridiculous to have to take the stairs down. But then I found another one on the other side of the bank. He is a few steps up, but it's managable.

2. Looks and atmosphere
Both Stormwind and Ironforge offer majestic settings, not the least the entrances. But Stormwind also offers something more: it’s relaxed, peaceful and pretty, with the channels, green parks, small shops selling things like wine and flowers and a lot of civilians and even children hanging around. You can see the sun and breathe fresh outdoor air. Without being a master of lore I get the feeling that this is what the ongoing war in the game is about; this is what we’re striving to protect.

Ironforge on the other hand feels pretty hostile. It’s definitely not pleasurable for civilians; it feels like an outpost combined with some mine industries. According to Wowwiki you should feel very safe and at home in Ironforge, but honestly, to me it’s quite a dark place. Not beautiful and welcoming the way Stormwind is. The whole town is bathing in different shades of darkness. You never see the sun and the air definitely is polluted with all this industrial work going on everywhere.

On the other hand – some of us prefer to dwell in the darkness. We want that “close-to-the-front”-atmosphere. We maybe find Stormwind even a bit too idyllic, too much of beautiful surface, a bit too polished to be comfortable and cozy. And way too crowded. Mind you, Stormwind has about 200 000 inhabitants, compared to the 20 000 of Ironforge.

The difference is huge, just watch the screenshots I included for a comparsion. But all in all, it’s more a matter of taste and what mood you’re in.

3. Miscellaneous observations

  • Both Ironforge and Stormwind offer fishing opportunities. Not for the captures, it's just low level crap, but for levelling up. I must say though that standing by the channels a sunny day, watching the city life, seems much more enjoyable to me than to dwell all alone in the darkness of the Forlorn Cavern. What really speaks for Stormwind though is that you can complete the daily fishing q when it's the one where you catch a croc. It's ever so easy to do it while you’re still in town doing other errands.
  • The flight path in Stormwind is slightly closer to the AH/Bank area. On the other hand you can’t mount all the way to it, and you have to run up an annoying ramp to access it. The flight master in IF on the other hand is standing conveniently on the ground and also has a repair guy nearby. The availability to the gryphon master isn’t any real argument though for either of the city, since you probably visit him for a reason; you don’t want just to go anywhere, but to a specific place. And while IF offer the closest transport to Ghostlands/ZulAman and Sunwell, Stormwind is the right place to start for a Karazhan run. So I guess that makes it even.
  • There is a small advantage for Ironforge that it’s closer to the harbour if you need to take the boat to Theramore. Being a mage I don’t have to, and I also have rep to portal to Caverns of Time. But for other classes it could be something to consider.
  • The deeprun tram is easier available in Ironforge than in Stormwind, where it’s well hidden. But since I hardly ever use it I can’t say it’s an argument for either side.
  • I can’t help it but all the shops in Ironforge seem to look the same to me. It makes it harder to learn how to find your way.
  • If your HS is on cooldown and you need to transport yourself there's a special thing you can do in Stormwind: start a party for Stockades. Enter. Then leave the party. You'll be transported to where your HS is set. It's not a big deal, just a small detail in advantage of SW.

My conclusions
After looking at those figures I think I’ll give Ironforge an honest chance to compete for the title “hometown of Larísa”. It is a bit annoying that I have to walk a bit to get my vials. But especially if I intend to combine waiting for AV queues with browsing AH, it’s very attractive.

And the most important reason of all is the one I haven’t mentioned yet: I have a strong feeling that there are much fewer beggars and other annoying people in Ironforge than in Stormwind. You’re more likely to be left in peace, even as a mage.

And what about Darnassus?
You who have read this far may wonder what happened to Darnassus, the capital of the elves?
Is Larísa so noobish that she hasn’t even heard about it’s wonders? Or is she a sworn elf hater?

Neither. But seriously, I’ve never ever met a player who considers Darnassus to be their home town, the place where you do your everyday stuff. And that isn’t strange. It’s ridiculously spread out and totally impossible to get the grasp of, to learn where things are situated. Some of the platforms are even annoyingly hard to jump up on as a gnome.

I know I’ll probably be flamed now by some dedicated nightelf players, but I can live with it. Tell me that I’m wrong and I may do some serious studies and measure the distances in Darnassus as well. But for the time being I just can’t see how it could qualify as a hometown.


Mae said...

I personally love IF!! Every single time I need something, I head straight to the portals and click good ol' Iron Forge. It just seems easier to access all the things I would need in IF. :)

Lately, however, I have spent a bit of time in SW fishing. Sadly, fishing in the cavern in IF is out. :( So, SW canals are the ideal place to level my fishing skill.

Enjoyed the read!

Euripedes said...

Gnomer is obviously the best capital in the game.


I'm sorry, it had to be said. And you have no idea how hard that was to type with a straight face.

Anonymous said...

1. Distance to facilities
Portal place (where I appear) – bank
Iron forge.
Pickup reagents, hit repairer, hit bank & AH as required.
basically a straight line, without having to negotiate tricky turns.

Also, no big jump from Mage tower... I hate that jump.

Bank – battleground masters
Ironforge - Quick and easy "straight line once again"
I can never find the right room in SW either ;-)

Auction house – mailbox
Straight line - autorun, make coffee, get mail/bank items/AH scan

Bank – reagent vendor
I rarely go this direction, I usually pick them up on way from Mage Quarter to Bank

Bank – repair guy
Same as reagent vendor, I go there on the way to bank.

2. Looks and atmosphere
I like Ironforge as it's the surrogate home of the Gnomes... Every time I visit I feel that any time the call will go out for the joint Gnome & Dwarven forces to storm back into Gnomergan and take it back.

3. Miscellaneous observations
Stormwind for fishing
flight path - 50/50. Prefer IF I guess, but it's a pain to run around the loop after a port. I just port to whichever is closest to my end destination.
deeprun tram - I hate, but don't have to use... just port ;-)
Ironforge does all look the same... and I can never read the signs. When I do read a sign i go downstairs when I should go up, and vice versa.

Where's Darnassus?

Green Armadillo said...

Well, we get the best of both (or all four) worlds, cause we're mages and get to use whichever strikes our fancy at any given moment. ;)

I'd say Stormwind is probably the city I like the most visually (and believe me, the new harbor is an incredible addition, even if there isn't much reason to visit all that often). I don't PVP much at all, so I don't feel the need to deduct points for the battlemasters being impossible to get to. I tend to use SW when I don't have a specific reason to go elsewhere, cause I always went there instead of IF during my days raiding the Blackrock Mountain instances due to larger amounts of lag in IF.

IF is probably the most compact in terms of the major level-capped amenities, as well as having a lazy straight line run from the bank to the AH (though half of my bank alts live in SW anyway). I do still have bad memories of falling in the senseless chasm between the AH and the bank from the days before I got my new computer though. Because hey, putting an instance line on the AH door would break immersion, but freezing up and not being able to move for a 30-90 seconds while waiting to see what the people around you look like is totally how things happen in the real world.

Darnassus gets a bum rap for being so out of the way, but that's a relatively moot point for mages (or anyone else relying on a Hearthstone to get back to Outland). The portal arrival spot isn't great, but it has by far the most convenient battlemasters (on an outdoor terrace) to the bank/AH corridor, and the closest fishable water to said battlemasters.

In terms of sheer practicality for the non-PVP player, however, there is a real case to be made for the Exodar. It's the only city with an AH (Alliance or Horde) where the portal arrival point is flagged outdoors, allowing you to mount immediately upon arrival. The entrances to the bank and the AH are tall enough for Draenei, so you won't get stuck in the door and have to manually click off your mount. And, as an extra bonus feature, you won't have to listen to Mr. awebneyqwcafhy advertising his gold-selling site by the mailbox, because free trial accounts don't have access to TBC. (They also don't waste their time in Darnassus, because there's no one there.) It's even less convenient than Darnassus if you're leaving on foot since you can't auto-bird anywhere, but that's no longer really relevant once you're hearthed in Shattrath.

Anonymous said...

Ironforge - I like the open spaces, but more for the less annoying people ( well I've found) and Gold sellers seem to find it a little harder to get to Ironforge,

I used to love Darnassus on my Nightelf, but I only go there on my Draeni mage as she can port herself in & out of there without waiting for a hearth cool down, once you get there your sorta stuck.. and poor poor Exodor - If they had a 2 way port like Undercity and Silvermoon it might get more traffic.

Eishen said...

Even being an horde (have a couple of allies but none of them in its sixties) I can only say that stormwind is the coolest spot in all world of warcraft.

The ambientation is superb, specially for a mage with a tower and a district on his own.

Graphically silverymoon is way more appealing (as one could expect as it comes from the expansion) and for usefulnes Ogrimmar its number one for me (with the possible exception of batlemasters)...but none of them has stormwind charm

Zupa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zupa said...

Undercity for me thx!

Everything really is near everything, but only if you take shortcuts.

(Follow the paths and you will go round in circles for ever.)

...Except the battlemasters. It's actually quicker to port to shatt and queue there than to run to the UC battlemasters...

UC also has lovely toxic green sludge to do some fishing in... What more could a zombie ask for?

...but in answer to the original question, way back when I was a nelfy hunter who just got his mount and giant axe of the monkey or something, I used to love IF.

I remember it being far too easy to get lost in storm wind!

Ghostboci said...

Reading this post makes me happy for being with the horde. Thunder Bluff is the best:
Portal-bank: 25 secs
Bank-battleground: 12 secs
Auction-mailbox: 8 secs
Bank-reagent: 2-10 secs (walking vendor, with very welcoming warm messages)
Bank-trade supplier: 9 secs
Bank-repair: 6 secs
Flight point-bank: 20 secs (upstairs, downstairs it's 5+light feather)

Looks: The taurens live in tents. They cook their meat and sell their stuff front of their tents, in the open air. From the fly point tower you can see the whole city (if you can call it one, it's rather a big village)

* fishing lake: 5 secs from bank and if you fish, a nearby druid will surely jump into the water, switch aquatic form and act like being catched when you pull your bobber. (this never gets old).
* Also you can always find dancing bears near the bank.
* Unfortunately TB is the farthest from Karazhan-ZA-Sunwell, if you wanna go there, you'd better HS back to Shatt. On the other hand it is acceptably close to CoT.

One more positive for me: whole TB is on a huge hill. If you jump down to Mulgore (without protection), you die. So those annoying people who has no better fun then attacking the other faction's city killing vendors and lowbies, has nowhere to run. You can kill them again and again until they use the spirit healer. If they jump with some protection (except bubble), I jump after them, fire blast/PoM-FB them in the air and use a light feather, then portal back up.

2ndNin said...

SW has stockades, it wins.

Inv + stockades kick (1:30), running to portal (0:30), IF, still faster than the train, portal to SSO (faster to ZA than IF, even IF to SSO -> ZA is faster :P than direct to za from if).

IF is useful for theramore... and the other continent.

so as I said, stockades ftw.

Avonar said...

Stormwind. Atmosphere and everything seems close, I rarely leave the main square in the trade quarter. Plus I use the Stockades as a solution when I need to get back to Shat and my hearthstone is on cooldown.

Larísa said...

I must say that the respons to this post is somewhat overwhelming!
And from horde players as well!

Blushing I must admit that I had totally forgotten about Exodar.

I'll probably do a follow-up, an evaluation of Exodar and Darnassus now that I realize there are two alliance cities left. It will probably take a little time though since I'm really not familiar with the places.

And there are reasons why I didn't pay Exodar a thought.... I'll be back about that in the evaluation...

Brajana said...

Since I'm mostly a Horde player, most of the parts of this argument don't really apply to me - my highest Alliance character is about 46, so I really can only judge based on atmosphere. I'm going to have to go with Ironforge on this one. Stormwind seems to crowded - all the buildings lining the small streets and all makes me nervous or something! :) I like the big epic feel that Ironforge brings.

I find it interesting that there isn't quite as equal a split for the Horde. Undercity is probably the second most popular capital, but Org is where it's at for the majority of people (including me!)

krizzlybear said...

I only use cap cities for AH purposes on my bankn alt. IF is best for AH to mailbox travel, as it is in a straight line. As you auto-run towards the AH, the auctioneer is right in front of you when you hit the wall, whereas stormwind you have to make a bunch of turns and such. For banks and battlemasters and such, I rely mainly on my Scryers bank, which is reasonably close to the battlemasters and portals.

Anonymous said...

If I was to compare Horde Cities. I think I would go with Thunderbluff... I nearly always found it more painful than Org. But where Org feel's epic, Thunderbluff feels comfortable.. and UC... sorta cold and.. ummm.. undead

Darraxus said...

I always end up in SW to be honest. I just like SW for some reason that I cant really explain. I usually do my BGs and Arenas in Shatt, so that isnt a deciding factor. I think it also has to do with the fact that the Champions Hall is in SW.

kanye said...

I do go to Darnassus for one, very lazy, reason - mooncloth tailoring. Yes, I use a HS cooldown to avoid running to Zangarmarsh :)

Larísa said...

@Mae: what do you mean that fishing in the cavern is out? Not getting it.

@Euripedes: Actually I once thought it was still a functioning capital. I'll tell you the story another time.

No problem picking up reagents in IF, the powder and runes. But I want him to sell vials as well...

Hate the tram? Having my first ride there was one of my top 10 experiences in the game. It then dawned upon me what kind of cool game this was, what an adventure I had started.

@Green Armadillo: Thank you for your points. I'm planning to do an evaluation of Darnassus and Exodar and it will help me out a bit.

@Pugnacious Priest: Yeah, forgot about the Gold sellers. Even fewer of them though in Darnassus and Exodar. Too small market there I guess.

@Eishen: yes, I can't help getting the feeling "good old SW" whenever I go there. Especially if I've been on an outing to the more mystical transparent Exodar. SW really is very charming when it comes to the looks.

@Zupa: I hust admit I don't think I've ever explored UC. What a loss, thinking about the green sludge I've missed

@Ghostboci: Another proof that the Blizzard staff secretly buff horde more than alliance... Thank's for the investigations!

@2ndnin: yeah, it's true, travelling to ZA is best done from the island, I keep forgetting about it.

@avonar: yes I always had the feeling everything was more easily available in SW. But my calculation has proved me that perhaps I was a bit wrong. Guess it's mostly the habit.

@brajana: but there are some pretty epic settings in SW. Like around the cathedral. Or the entrance. I think the buildings are a bit more varied in SW. But it really is a matter of taste.

@krizzlybear: Shame on me, but even if I have a bank alt to give some more bag space, Larísa most of the times goes to AH by herself. But really, being a lvl 70 mage it would be more wise to avoid capitals altogether and let a low lvl char do the work there. Noone will ask a lvl 1 for a boost...

@Darraxus: another argument for SW, the champions hall. Playing PvP as little as I do I barely know where to find it...

@Kanye: has Darnassus something to do with mooncloth tailoring? Hm... Got to check that out when I'm doing my next evaluation.

Kanye said...

You need a moonwell to create mooncloth - with the three locations being Zangarmarsh (by the Cenarion Expedition inn), Stormwind (in the park area) or Darnassus (right by where the port zones you in).