Since Cataclysm‘s announcement at Blizzcon 2009, there has been intense speculation about what the Worgen (Alliance’s newest race) mount will be. In mid-September, enterprising World of Warcraft fans, who regularly scour the data files of the beta and public test realms for new information, discovered a new spell on the Cataclysm beta build: Running Wild.
The spell has a 1.5 second cast time (the same as summoning a mount), is learnable at level 20 (the typical level a player learns their first mount), is flagged as a Racial ability, and its description was simply “Drop to all fours to run as fast as a wild animal.” Early speculation posed that this was the Worgen’s mount, and would explain why after months of beta testing, Worgen still did not have mounts in Cataclysm.
Only a day later, Blizzard Entertainment confirmed that the skill was the new racial “mount” for Worgen, saying, “This does mean the worgen are not bringing faction mounts to the table which other Alliance races can access. This is also of course very different from the original Plainsrunning implemented for taurens. We have no plans to try and bring that ability back in any form.”
To understand the history of the debate this ability’s appearance has caused, a look back at World of Warcraft history is in order.
In the late stages of World of Warcraft‘s original beta in 2004, Tauren were granted their mounts in the form of a skill called Plainsrunning. The ability was an aura that began after ten seconds of regularly running, and would let Tauren run as fast as a regular mount (with an upgraded version available at epic riding level). However, the skill had several limitations: players who stood still would be “dismounted,” the skill could trigger at inopportune moments, and the speed would be instantly lost on a hit (rather than only having a chance depending on the daze factors used with regular mounts). Although the skill had initially been balanced to prevent players from abusing it in PvP, Tauren players found it too troublesome and difficult to manage. As a result, Blizzard Entertainment removed the skill at the beginning of World of Warcraft’s launch, replacing it with the kodo mount.
It’s clear that Plainsrunning, as it was implemented, was an unsuccessful attempt at allowing a race to be its own self-reliant mount. The Worgen mount skill, Running Wild, is different in a few key ways. To start with, the skill must be manually triggered by a player; it is not simply turned on after a time period of running by the Worgen. The time period it takes to initiate is also the same as a regular mount. Finally, the skill obeys all the regular laws that mounts do regarding dazing and terrain. Essentially, the skill is only similiar to Plainsrunning in that it allows the Worgen to be a self-sufficient mount, rather than riding another creature.
As a self-sufficient mount, this means a few things for both Worgen and the Alliance faction. While Worgen can purchase and ride any regular Alliance mounts, they will not need to do so or ride them in any fashion if they so choose. Worgen will therefore have no choice in their own racial mounts, as they will become their own mount with the skill.
Running Wild’s implementation also means that Alliance players will be unable to obtain the Worgen mounts in any way. Alliance players, in other words, will obtain zero new racial mounts in the expansion to add to their collection, while the Horde will still be able to collect the new mounts from the Goblin race. This causes, at least temporarily, a shift in the obtainable mount balance, which can affect both the mount achievement “Leading the Cavalry” and “Mountain o’ Mounts.” However, Blizzard has indicated that they are aware that the skill throws the balance off, and may consider implementing more mounts in the future to even things out.
It is doubtful at this time that Blizzard Entertainment will release special Worgen mounts, or that Tauren will ever get a new version of Plainsrunning that uses the same mechanics as Running Wild. What we can be sure of, however, is that a lot of Worgen players will be very pleased with a unique mount skill that no other race can lay claim to.