When it comes to changes in Cataclysm, few areas have changed their landscape as dramatically as Stranglethron Vale – which even got divided into two zones.
Northern Stranglethorn Value is the area directly bordering on Duskwood, and extending south as far as Fort Livingston.Areas such as the Ruins of Zul’Kunda, Nessingwary’s Expedition Camp and Kurzen’s Compound remain relatively unchanged. Even the Venture Company’s Base Camp seems to have not suffered from the changes in the area. But the farther south you come, the more evident becomes the change.
Just about around the Gurubashi Arena, the Stanglethorn area is ripped into two – and a great Maelstrom divides the landscape.
Next to the arena, the Explorers’ League Digsite remains in operation, Mistvale Valley is still inhabited by a bunch of Ogres and to the south, Booty Bay governs the Cape – having received some battering despite its isolated and protected location.
The Rebel Camp in the north is the first landing spot for the traveling adventurer, characters like Dragast land here at around level 25 after leaving Duskwood.
The Rebel C amp offers the first few quests and leads you to areas such as Kurzen’s Camp and to Nessingwary’s Expedition.
The true entrance to the Stranglethorn Vale area is just off the Rebel Camp, the way breaking through a small ridge and into a tropical rain forest area.
Just after the passage way where the first Panthers await the adventurer lies a small graveyard, overlooking the river and Nessingwary’s Camp.
The area around Nessingwary’s Camp is infested with wild beasts – Panthers, Tigers, Basilisks, and Crocolisks… you name them, they eat you.
A bit further into the forest you will also encounter so left-over dinosaurs – raptors to be precise. And don’t forget about the trolls of the Bloodscalp tribe.
The tribe’s main camp site of the ruins of Bal’lal and Zul’Kunda.
The tribe is hostile to both parties – Alliance and Horde. Mostly, they care for themselves and are determined to fight everyone off the land they have once taken by force.
Dragast was drawn into their business because there are plenty of quests around that deal with fighting off the Bloodscalps – and quests bring rewards, both in money and experience.
Many areas in the norther Stranglethorn Vale are beautiful landscapes – meadows, rain forest, wild flowers – it is all there.
What ruins the vacationer’s attempt to relax and chill out is the inhabitants roaming the area: if you have to fight off anyone who encounters you, you may not have picked the best holiday resort!
So the area to the west of the main road and to the Great Sea is infested with trolls and wild animals – the eastern side does not look much better.
In the far north, you run into Kurzen’s gang and their camp – with makes good grounds for the other quest chain up around here.
The gang is hostile towards Alliance as well as Horde players – and Dragast had quite a bit of a job to do fighting them, freeing their prisoners and destroying their stocks.
Eventually, the norther Stranglethorn Vale also reserves a vast area to the Venture Co. – and entire mining and digging camp is located along the shores of Lake Nazferiti.
Unlike Lake Everstill, Lake Nezferiti is a mud-pod – stick your toes and and check them all off when you take the foot out. The sea is full of slimy things, hungry fish and crocolisks… not the best place to take a nice afternoon swim. Just behind the lake and the Venture Co.’s Camp you will find the entrance to Zul’Gurub – one of the largest dungeons I have been running through in World of Warcraft – available on Level 85 Heroic Mode only.
New as of Cataclysm is the new Alliance camp in what used to be the central section of Stranglethorn Vale – now the southern border of the zone called “Northern Stranglethorn”. Fort Livingston holds a flight master, blacksmith and other characters the player need to repair and beef up his character.
When Dragast was roaming the area, he was not that lucky – there only had been the Rebel’s Camp area in the north and Booty Bay in the south – anything in between was hostile territory. Speaking of making things easy…
Crossing into the Cape region now, the next landmark is the Arena of Gurubashi. The arena it self has not really changed over the time – but the area in between Fort Livingston and here is now a huge maelstrom, dividing the two parts of Stranglethorn. If you are asking me – and Dragast, of course – this is a shame. Stranglethorn used to be a highly competitive and challenging area – it is not whitewashed and cleansed to serve merely as a questing ground without any challenge.
The image above shows the area – and Dragast on his green Proto-Drake which he earned much much later…Fort Livingston is on the left, the arena on the right, barely lurking over the edge of the trees.
Following the coastline of the Savage Coast – which used to be a deserted place once but is now also filled with new camps such as Hardwrench Hideaway, you will finally reach Booty Bay.
The town itself is located in a bay, surrounded by steep hills and only accessible by road through a tunnel or by sea.
A ship is regularly taking passengers to the other continent from here – and back. The place has taken some battering during Cataclysm.
Janeiro’s Point – and island guarding the bay’s entrance – has been washed over and the the city’s harbor is filled with debris.
The city is busy with repairs – and with business. Like in the old days, when Dragast came here first, players form both factions come to the city, use the auction house and run the quest lines.
Way back when, Dragast had help from a friend getting here – her name is Léda, a female warrior. Léda helped Dragast to get from the Rebel’s Camp to Booty Bay, guarding him and fighting off all enemies so Dragast eventually could claim the Flight Point here.
To complete the area, there is a stretch of beach behind Booty Bay which is well in the hand of pirates, having anchored three massive ships there.
The beaches as well as Jaguero Isle are also place of some questlines but the time in Stranglethorn is coming to an end.
I cannot really reacall if I took the chance to take Dragast over to Kalimdor – the ship leaving Booty Bay sails to Ratchet in the Northern Barrens section of Kalimdor – or if I returned to Stormwind, then going on to Ironforge. This time, however, I remain in the Eastern Kingdoms, take you to Stormwind and then on to Ironforge. We will cross over to the other continent later.
On the way out, Dragast is following a flight path through Mistvale Valley to have a last look at the Mistvale Gorillas which roam the area.
The gorillas have been formidable opponents once and this is a last farewell to old foes.
The way leads further north, flying over an area you once had to walk all the way. Passing the Ruins of Aboraz where Troll and Naga have joined forces Dragast is heading further north.
Crossing the land again, the last stop on the way out is an area called The Vile Reef. It lies off the western coast of Stranglethorn in the Great Sea. When Dragast was young and needed the money… he came here often to search for large shells in the reef. The shells can hold Blue Pearls which once sold at the auction house for a significant amount of money (for a low-level character, that is!)
Leaving Stranglethorn Vale by Proto-Drake, Dragast is taking the coastal route… to run into a surprise: just after passing the border into Westfall, there is a small farm with apple trees just on the edge of the water – in all the three years of playing, I don’t think I have seen it before. Stilwell’s Farm is a lovely place and evidence for the vast universe World of Warcraft has created… you can still find something new even after all those years (and it has been there all the time, I have checked…)