The Ruins of Warcraft

Mike Grist Fantasy Ruins, Game Ruins, World Ruins 9 Comments

The online fantasy game World of Warcraft is awash with ruins. Half of the in-game quests involve pilfering buried treasure from cities razed by the Scourge, temples leveled by the Lich King, and craters where force field-encapsulated cities once lay. A large part of the joy of the game (IMHO) comes from exploring these areas and their eerily haunting graphics.

The ruins of Bashal’Aran

World of Warcraft (WoW) is a MMORPG, a Massively-Multiplayer-Online-Roleplaying-Game. People buy the game, pay a monthly fee, and get to enjoy a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy world from a first person perspective, defining their class, race, gender, equipment, and general style any way they want. If you like (and some people do) you can spend all day dancing in the town square with just your underpants on, cat-calling the crowds as they go by. Or you can get serious. There are all manner of monsters, quests, powers, weapons and spells set out in a hierarchy- the more time spent kicking ass, working, gold-farming in game, the higher up the hierarchy you go. People play this game like its a sport, going for 40-man training sessions at scheduled times and places. My cousin plays at that kind of level, I think he`s the leader of a raiding group, and it`s a major part of his life.

Anyway, you probably know all that.

What you won`t know, unless you`ve played the game exhaustively (or scanned the Wow wiki as I have) is how many ruins there are in the game. There are a lot. This is my effort to lay out some of the best I could find. All info from the Wow wiki.

The Ruins of Alterac

The ruins of Alterac City, destroyed by the Alliance for their betrayal during the Second War. Now a bunch of ogres live inside.

Dire Maul

Built 12,000 years ago and still going strong, albeit as ruins. Destroyed in the `Great Sundering`. Now it`s packed with satyrs and ogres.

Entrance to Dire Maul.

Warpwood quarter.

Capital Gardens.

The Shrine of Eldrethal.

Eldreth Row.

The Broken Commons.


A magical city that was shielded by an impenetrable purple dome. In a game-world wide event at the climax of one of WoW`s expansion packs the city lifted off, leaving only an empty crater behind. Crazy.

Dalaran Dome.

I actually played Warcraft for a while, a year or so ago. I remember stumbling into this big purple dome and thinking- wtf is this? Now I know. I actually enjoyed Warcraft a lot, and often think about rejoining the world and leveling up a player, but there`s a few good reasons why I don`t-

– There`s not much plot, or structure. To some people this may be awesome. They can just go do whatever the heck they want to do. But I want to feel some sense of purpose, with concrete goals. When I accomplish those goals, I want to know I did, and for it to matter more than just a chance to level up some more, or get a winged mount. I needed more of a reason to play. I was a human Paladin, slow to level anyway. By level 40 I realized there was gonna be no more structure. The whole world was my oyster- which was just too big, formless, and endless for me.

– You need to join a raiding party to go into any of the bigger dungeons or cooler areas. To do that, you generally need to have friends already playing WoW, who you can rely on playing with at a regular time. It then becomes a kind of commitment, and you can`t do it alone. For me, like with haikyo, I generally want to do it alone, on my own schedule.

– Inordinate amounts of time spent `grinding`, just killing monsters for xp, and `farming`, collecting gold and other resources to get money. Bo-ring.

Artist`s rendition of the aftermath.

Ethel Rethor

An abandoned night elf light-house. Apparently it has a door which doesn`t open. Very frustrating.

`Did Jacob tell you how to open this?`

Ravencrest Monument

A monument to Lord Ravencrest who fought off the Burning Legion. Seems to be purposefully echoing that ruins perennial Ozymandias.

Fine pair of legs.


A bunch of ruins called Jintha`kalar.


More ruins with an apostrophe in the name.

Ruins of Thaurrissan

There was a dwarven city here, on the Burning Steppes. Now it`s just a bunch of Nazca outlines.

Tethris Aran

Night elf settlement destroyed in the Great Sundering. What is the Great Sundering? when the Well of Eternity imploded 10,000 years ago and split the world`s one continent into several.

Ruins of Andorhal

Once a human town, the Undead Scourge came in and kicked some ass until everybody was undead too.

There are hundreds more, I`m sure, though none more impressive- at least not with images on the Wow Wiki. If any experienced WoW-ers want to suggest locations for exploration, I`m keen to take a look.

And a closing thought- with the real world becoming more and more known as we go on, fewer haikyo to explore, fewer places man has never been, isn`t the real future frontier for exploration going to be our imagination? Worlds like Warcraft that some of us make, then leave for the rest of us to explore? Pretty soon these worlds are going to be indistinguishable from real life, as computers get stronger.

When it gets to that point, would a life lived online really be any less real than a life lived offline? Or would it be more real?

See more SF / Fantasy Ruins here:

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See all my real world ‘haikyo/ruin’ explores in Japan here:

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See a curation of curious world ruins here.

Read my stories inspired by ruin here.

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Comments 9

  1. Almost makes me want to play again. Almost 🙂

    For me there was almost too much structure, rather than not enough. Everything is set up to drive you to end-game raiding. Quests from one zone to lead to the next higher level zone and so on. I prefer to get off the rails and just poke around. Paying too much attention to the playerbase contributes to the problem though. Most people find leveling a nuisance on the way to the “top”. Gotta get those epics!

    I always enjoyed the ruins of El’darath, in Azshara.

  2. Post

    CLF- Thanks, was glad to find it can be done, especially now as majority of decent haikyo in Japan seem to be exhausted.

    Sera- Though I`m not, I feel like a player myself too after delving into the world so much.

    Landorien- Too much structure, interesting. I wouldn`t want to be steered to end level raiding either. I guess what I mean is- more story. I didn`t like going to a new area and just being landed with a bunch of stories and quests completely unconnected from anything. Longer quest chains then, and chains that overlap and feed into each other. I didn`t like just doing throw-away quests for xp and no story. When that`s all the game became, felt pointless. Leading to nothing

    Eldarath right, that does look great, but the wiki only has one screenshot.

    Sera- Thanks for link to Eldarath, as above, it looks good. I looked into the others but couldn`t find screenshots on the Wiki. Future ruins- I`m all for that.

  3. Hey, don’t give up on new haikyo yet! I didn’t look into Kanto that much, but the internet is a great (but time consuming) way to find new places to go to. I’ve read about a hotel north of Lake Ashinoko on one or two Japanese sites for example. And if you are willing to travel you’ll find dozens of good haikyo in Kansai, Shikoku and Kyushu – it’s not the Tokyo area, but still Japan. Some of them are truly spectacular and all over the internet, some of them are hidden germs that are hard to find, but worth the effort.

  4. Post

    Florian- I haven`t given up, just am lowering my sights. No more grand ruins, I think. As for internet research, I did some of that but don`t much like doing it. My preferred method now may be to just go somewhere remote and keep my eyes open.

    And Kansai, for sure, am hoping to head over there maybe next month and do a quick roundup of major sites.

  5. You might try playing/looking through Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. 1) Has some great voice acting. 2) Has some awesome forts etc to explore. Most of these have been “taken” over by undesirables (which you get to kill), but the graphics are gorgeous! I too like to explore on my own. That – and the monthly fee – meant I never got into WoW. It always looked interesting though.
    BTW: I love this site! I’ve been “exploring” it almost all day! You take some awesome shots and videos. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Post

      Thanks for this tip Rose, I actually heard this before from a friend who swore by Oblivion. After writing this post I went ahead and loaded up Warcraft agaib, played through til level 40, then just ran out of drive. What’s the point of it all, really, if there is no end? Just keep on building and building?

      Thanks on the site- glad you like it!

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