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Battle Bards Episode 80: Aura Kingdom

August 16, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

Never heard of Aura Kingdom? The Battle Bards hope that after an hour of attention, you might add a new title to your video game music library. This fantasy MMO has an exuberant score that nonetheless inspires vicious bickering and passionate speeches by the co-hosts. It’s the 80th episode, and the Battle Bards are still going strong!

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Aura Kingdom

Episode 80 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Step by Step” and “Wise Tale”)
  • “Welcome to the New World”
  • “Reflection”
  • “Archmage’s Holy Land/Echoes of the Past”
  • “Grand City”
  • “Witcher Waltz”
  • “Hustle and Bustle”
  • “Fate of the Forest”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox picks: “The Last of Us” from The Last of Us, “Two Dots” from Two Dots, and “Summer (Tropicala)” from Stardew Valley
  • Outro (feat. “Hero”)
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Battle Bards Episode 79: Combat Music

August 2, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

Ready to battle it out more than usual? The Battle Bards are cranking up the combat tunes from MMORPGs today, inviting all sorts of violence and slap-happy tempos into the show. So strap on your sword, sling a shield on your back, and get ready to leap into the fray with a wide assortment of excellent — and even unusual — music tracks!

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Combat

Episode 79 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Planes of Power Battle Music 2” from EverQuest and “Combat Part 3” from The Secret World)
  • “Dungeon Boss Music” from FFXIV: Heavensward
  • “Skull Island Broadside Combat” from Pirate101
  • “Savage Coast Combat” from Age of Conan
  • “Combat 4” from Black Desert Online
  • “Combat en Amakna” from Dofus
  • “Madera Combat” from Defiance
  • “High Battle 2” from EverQuest II
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox Picks: “Les Monstres” from Contre Jour, “Dearly Beloved” from Kingdom Hearts II, “Hymn to Aurora” from Horace Wimp
  • Outro (“Battle Music 3” from War Thunder)
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Battle Bards Episode 78: Everquest

July 19, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

Before World of Warcraft, there was EverQuest — the king of the MMOs and the pioneer of true 3D graphics in virtual worlds. Today the Battle Bards pay homage to this classic game, going back to 1999 to see how the music (in its various formats) hold up. If you were waiting for an episode where I spend most of the time screeching in agony, this is it!

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Everquest

Episode 78 Show Notes

Intro (feat. “Main Theme,” “Bard’s Guild,” and “Karana Bridge”)
“Kerra Isle”
“Plane of Storms”
“Plane of Knowledge”
“Akanon”
“Tower of Soulsek Ro”
“Solitude”
“Toxxulia Forest”
Which one did we like best?
Mail from Shannon Doyle
Jukebox picks (“Bridge Zone” from Sonic SMS, “From Past to Present” from Skyrim, and “Following Stanley” from The Stanley Parable)
Overclocked Podcast shout-out
Outro

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Battle Bards Episode 77: Spirit of Adventure II

June 28, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

I have decreed the return of spirit of adventure — and so it shall be! In the second part of this theme, the Battle Bards explore adventurous and inspirational MMO tunes. Are we out of ideas or overflowing with incredible tracks? It’s definitely the latter, so grab your hiking stick and join us as we venture out into the great yonder!

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TERA

Episode 77 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Gahren Plains” from Vanguard and “Tullan” from ArchLord)
  • “Ship of Destiny” from TERA
  • “Make Zone BGM” from Lime Odyssey
  • “A Grand Adventure” from WildStar
  • “Freedom Wind” from Aura Kingdom
  • “Albrassia Field” from Ragnarok 2
  • “Halas” from EverQuest Online Adventures
  • “Sailing Icy Seas” from World of Warcraft
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox picks: “Main Menu” from Overwatch, “Wings” from Xenogears, and “Animated” from Zombies Corporate Life
  • Outro
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Battle Bards Episode 76: Guild Wars 2 – Heart of Thorns

June 14, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

“It’s high time that we talk about the Heart of Thorns expansion for Guild Wars 2!” Syl says, and we couldn’t agree more. The Battle Bards assemble to look at the first expansion for this fantasy MMO — and the evolution of the game’s soundtrack from the Jeremy Soule era. The verdict? Unanimous love for this incredible score!

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Heart of Thorns

Episode 76 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Rata Novus” and “An Exalted Lullaby”)
  • “Main Theme”
  • “Auric Wilds”
  • “Glint’s Legacy”
  • “Tarir, the Forgotten City”
  • “Far From Home”
  • “Attack on Tarir”
  • “Faren’s Flyer”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox picks: “Main Theme” from Wynncraft, “The Dance Begins” from Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, and “Comfort” from Frosaken World
  • Outro (feat. “Jaka Itzel”)
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Battle Bards Episode 75: DANCE PARTY!

May 24, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

Get out on the dance floor and boogie down with the Battle Bards! Today the bards look for — believe it or not — electronic dance music in MMO soundtracks. Yes, it exists, and yes, it’s all over the map. So strap in for a tub-thumping, rave-inducing episode that does skew to the goofy and surreal at times.

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Danceparty

Episode 75 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Club Tracks” from Anarchy Online and “Club 47” from Star Trek Online)
  • “Free to Dance” from WildStar
  • “Lords of Verminion Theme” from FFXIV
  • “Sunset Tracer” from Tree of Savior
  • “Pocket D Themes” from City of Heroes
  • “Involute” from Granada Espada
  • “Robo Factory Theme” from The Sims Online
  • “Stratus” from The Matrix Online
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox picks: “Floating Sky” from Trove, “Peaceful Hills” from Portal Knights, and “Wet Hands” from Minecraft
  • Outro (“Mission Complete” from Spiral Knights)

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Audiobook Review: Warcraft: Durotan by Christie Golden

May 16, 2016

Durotan audio

Warcraft: Durotan by Christie Golden

Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, Media Tie-In

Series: Warcraft

Publisher: Audible Studios (May 3, 2016)

Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Toby Longworth

Warcraft: Durotan is the official prequel novel to the Warcraft movie, set to hit theaters later this summer. As a fan of the game franchise, I almost feel like I have an obligation to go out and see this film, though whether or not it’ll actually be good remains to be seen. Call me cynical, but I’ve been burned way too many times by underwhelming movie adaptations, and so while part of me is excited to finally see one of my favorite games come to life on the big screen, I will also remain cautiously optimistic for now.

Still, I picked up this book because I knew I would want the background story. A lot of people don’t realize that Warcraft is more than just a game series—it’s also an immense, indescribably huge body of lore. Its world encompasses a countless number of locations and characters, and its history stretches back thousands upon thousands of years. And as much as I enjoy playing the games, in some ways I enjoy hearing about the stories even more. I love the epic tales of legendary heroes, reading about their great deeds and how they made their mark on the world of Warcraft and its history.

The Frostwolf orc clan chieftain Durotan is one of these legendary figures. The eponymous main character of this novel will also be one of the key players in the upcoming film, and this is the story of how he led his people out of the dying lands of Draenor to find their home in a new world.

When the book begins, Draenor is already on the brink of destruction. With the spirits of the elements weakened, winters are becoming increasingly harsher and the dwindling herds mean that the orcs will soon have to abandon their territory or face death by exposure and starvation. However, when a mysterious warlock named Gul’dan arrives with an offer to save them, the Frostwolf Clan decides to turn him away, preferring to maintain their independence. No stranger to tough times, Durotan believes it would be better to take their chances on their own rather than join the outsider’s “Horde”, especially since he does not trust the warlock. But while the Frostwolf may be one of the last clans to hold out, things in Draenor are going from bad to worse, and soon they too will have to make a decision on how to move forward, or risk dying with their homeland.

Believe it or not, finishing this book actually made me feel more confident about the movie. The events portrayed here offer us a solid foundation and a promise of some fantastic things to come. But then again, it’s Christie Golden. She’s written some of my favorite Warcraft and Star Wars novels of all time, and I knew even before going into this novel that it was going to be great. I’m beyond excited that this was everything I expected, especially since Durotan’s story was one that I’ve always wanted to get to know better.

I’m also pleased that this novel was entirely about the orcs. I say this even as a diehard Ally, as I honestly believe not enough attention is being given to the races of the Horde when it comes to media tie-ins, plus fantasy in general can be so human-centric. It’s easy to get caught up in the faction pride sometimes, reducing the “other guys” to nothing more but enemies to kill, but the truth is, orcs are a complex race with values deeply rooted in their society and culture. We get to see many examples of this in Warcraft: Durotan, as our protagonist realizes that being a leader is about more than just his strength and pride. Wisdom is just as important, as is compassion—even for your enemies. Durotan often finds himself torn between his honor and what he knows is best for his people, but knowing when to listen and when you have to sacrifice for the greater good are just some of the lessons he learns first as the Frostwolf’s chieftain, and then as a husband and a father-to-be. This book is simple filled to the brim with all these feels.

Kudos also goes to Toby Longworth for doing a superb job narrating the audio version. He has a very strong voice, great for reading fantasy novels and perfect for capturing the personalities of larger-than-life characters like Durotan. In addition, this audiobook was very easy to get into; at seven-and-a-half hours in length, I finished this one in good time, probably within two or three listening sessions. Finally, the audiobook ends with an audio excerpt of the “sequel”, which is the novelization of the movie itself, also written by Christie Golden.

If you plan on seeing Warcraft, I highly recommend picking up Warcraft: Durotan first, because it shows a larger picture and puts some of the movie’s events in context. Lore hounds will also love this book, especially if you want deeper insight into those who had a hand in shaping the face of Azeroth. All told, this is a wonderful, fascinating look into the life of Durotan, who is the loving mate of Draka, a contemporary of Orgim Doomhammer, and the future father of one of Warcraft’s most prominent characters.

***A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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