Ah Gadgetzan, the city of opportunity!
My favorite zone in World of Warcraft: Legion is without a doubt Suramar. Since Gilneas City in Cataclysm I’ve wanted a city as a questing zone rather than a just a place people stand around in to use to auction house or wait for LFG queues. Suramar City realized those dreams beautifully, and I’d love to see Blizzard do it again and expand on the idea. Then a few months after Legion‘s release Blizzard announced the newest Hearthstone expansion, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. I was instantly in love with the lore behind the expansion, that following the flooding of eastern Tanaris during the Cataclysm, Gadgetzan had grown from a quaint desert trading post to a massive 1920’s New York-esque city, full of crime families and a wonderful blend of fantasy and anachronistic technology that’s always been one of my favorite parts of the Warcraft setting.
Besides that, the Hearthstone team had fleshed out the setting of this expanded Gadgetzan to an amazing degree for a game that has no story. I immediately started to imagine how this updated Gadgetzan could work in official Warcraft canon and in WoW itself (it wouldn’t be the first time lore created for Hearthstone made it into WoW). This would be the perfect setting to iterate and expand upon the same concept as Suramar City. Over the past few months I’ve been refining that idea, and much like my past two expansion concepts, I’m here to share how I would make Mean Streets of Gadgetzan inside of WoW.
In terms of gameplay, I feel that with the emphasis on three warring crime families the best way to implement (Means Streets of) Gadgetzan would be as a three-way World PvP zone. Instead of being divided by Horde and Alliance, players would choose between one of the three gangs who would serve as their ‘faction’ while in Gadgetzan. As for getting to the city, the new Gadgetzan would need to be instanced and accessible through portals in regular capital cities so that leveling players in Tanaris would not be adversely effected. This would also preserve the current Gadgetzan so that players can still visit it, much like the phased changes to Dustwallow Marsh and Blasted Lands following their expansion updates. The new Gadgetzan would have to be instanced rather than phased simply for convenience’s sake as it would be so large that a good fourth of Tanaris would be gone.
Welcome to Gadgetzan
Gadgetzan is divided into four districts: Grimestreet, Little Pandaria, The Bazaar, and Old Gadgetzan. Players first enter the city in Old Gadgetzan, neutral ground where Mayor Noggenfogger’s bruisers will intervene in any PvP battles. This district serves as a safe introductory/tutorial area where players are acquainted to the new Gadgetzan, learn the rules of the city, and choose which crime family they will join. Old Gadgetzan also includes two streets which act as “no man’s land” style barriers between the gang territories.
Also present in Old Gadgetzan is the familiar Thunderdome, which now functions a third location for the Brawler’s Guild but with a twist. Aside from regular battles, some of which are exclusive to the Thunderdome, there are also “gang rumbles” where two teams of players from opposing gangs will fight in an arena death match.
Grimestreet is the largest neighborhood in Gadgetzan and home to the Grimy Goons. While you should watch your coin purse and stay away from dark alleys in all parts of Gadgetzan, its especially true here. Black market weapons dealers, speakeasies, and fight clubs are the sorts of “entertainment” you can expect to find while visiting Grimestreet. The most important of the district’s landmarks though is the First Bank of Gadgetzan. It’s vault doors hide more than just the city’s riches, but also the secret headquarters of the Grimy Goons and their leader, Don Han’Cho.
After the mists fell and their homes were devastated by the Alliance and Horde war, many residents of Pandaria sought new homes up north. As the closest major city, Gadgetzan became home to nearly all these pandarian refugees. In Little Pandaria travelers can find pandaren, hozen, jinyu, grummles, and even a few mantid and virmen reintegrated into the world they had been separated from for ten thousand years. Its diverse population has made Little Pandaria the heart of culture in Gadgetzan, from exotic restaurants and tea houses to the Museum of Ancient Artifacts, where wealthy philanthropist Aya Blackpaw discretely oversees the Jade Lotus gang’s latest crime spree.
The docks and northern portions of Gadgetzan make up The Bazaar. All trade goods coming into the city pass through here first, with merchant stalls and shady dealers lining every street corner. The largest of these stores is the Gadgetzan Mega Market where owner Kazakus boasts that everything one could legally (and illegally) acquire is for sale. Be sure to get a complimentary Kaza-kola from the Food Kingdom! Just be sure to stay out of the employees only areas, rumors have it that they’re the alchemy labs and mana dens where the Kabal operates from.
Joining a Gang
When players first arrive in Old Gadgetzan, they will be given a quest to choose which crime family they will declare allegiance to: the Grimy Goons, Jade Lotus, or Kabal. Each class is automatically welcomed into one of the three gangs, but during this starting quest you can choose to join another. Once you have joined, your choice is final, at least initially. After two weeks you can betray your gang and join another but it will be far more difficult, similar to switching between the Aldor and Scryers in The Burning Crusade. The default class/gang alignments are similar to Hearthstone, but with WoW’s extra classes accounted for.
Grimy Goons: Warrior, Paladin, Hunter, Death Knight
Jade Lotus: Druid, Rogue, Shaman, Monk
Kabal: Mage, Priest, Warlock, Demon Hunter
Once you have joined a gang, that will be your faction affiliation in Gadgetzan. There is no Horde or Alliance when you’re inside the city walls. This means you can communicate and group with anyone in the same gang, regardless of what their faction in the outside world is. You are also unable to communicate or group with members of other gangs, even if you belong to the same outside faction (this only applies while you are inside Gadgetzan, if you and your friend are in different gangs but your friend is in the Broken Isles for example, you can still whisper to them). Any groups formed inside Gadgetzan are automatically disbanded when the players go outside the city.
Your chosen crime family is also a reputation faction offering unique rewards to incentivize reaching exalted with each gang (though not all at once of course, your reputation is automatically reset to hated when you switch sides). Players start off friendly with their gang (or neutral if you choose one outside of your class grouping) and can gain a unique pet at honored, a mount at revered, and a full set of transmog gear at exalted.
Pet: Lil’ Knuckles, Jade Spirit, Red Mana Wyrm
Mount: Getaway Hotrod, Jade Quilen, Arcane Serpent
For the transmog sets, here are some images from Hearthstone which give an idea of the aesthetic each set would have (the Kabal’s tattoos come as part of the chest piece):
Once you’ve joined a gang and are ready to earn some reputation rewards, it’s time to participate in the main gameplay in Gadgetzan. With the exception of the Old Gadgetzan district, all of the city is a world PvP area. Each gang’s headquarters (The First Bank of Gadgetzan, Museum of Ancient Artifacts, and Gadgetzan Mega Market) are sanctuaries that cannot be accessed by enemy players, at least at first. While in your gang’s district, NPCs will be friendly to you and assist in combat. In either of the enemies’ districts, hostile gang enforcer NPCs must be avoided along with enemy players. Throughout your gang’s turf and the enemies’ are world quests with both PVE and PVP objectives (similar to the world PVP quests in Legion) which you can complete to gain reputation, gold, honor points, and help weaken enemy gangs and strengthen yours.
Examples of these world quests include objectives such as killing enemy players or NPC gang members, planting dynamite to blow up safe-houses, sabotaging or resupplying weapons caches, or protecting/assassinating high profile gang targets.
Each of the three districts have a gang strength meter which starts at 100%. As enemy players complete world quests in the gang’s district, their strength depletes, reducing the number and strength of NPC guards. Completing world quests in your gang’s district raises their strength back up. If a gang’s strength reaches zero, their headquarters becomes vulnerable to attack. Inside is the gang’s leader, a powerful world boss that functions similar to the Ashran commanders from Warlords of Draenor. Killing a gang’s leader is the victory condition for Gadgetzan. All players who participated in the kill get a substantial amount of honor, reputation and a chance at loot like a regular world boss. All players in the victorious gangs receive a small buff which resets when the defeated leader respawns and the battle begins anew. The three leaders each have different abilities which players should prepare for before engaging them, especially since enemy players will try to defend their leaders.
Don Han’Cho switches between Han and Cho being in control, each with a different ability set. When Han is in control, he uses his tommy gun to spray bullets throughout the room which players must dodge and also calls in beasts stolen from the Thunderdome. When Cho is in control, he will use powerful physical attacks such as “Knuckle Sandwich” which sends Cho’s target and any players standing near them flying across the room.
Aya Blackpaw is not initially target-able during her boss fight. Instead she hides in the shadows while players face her bodyguard White Eyes. While players fight White Eyes, Aya will disrupt the raid with smoke bombs, jade shurikens, and by garroting random players with her whip. Once White Eyes is dead, Aya enters the fight herself, keeping all of her old abilities and summoning Jade Golem adds.
Kazakus starts the fight by using his many different types of potions on the raid. At 50% health, Kazakus reveals his true form and gains a new set of standard dragon abilities, such as a breath attack and tail swipe. However his deep breath is still themed around his potions, with different breath attacks corresponding to each potion.
Calling a Truce
With three factions vying for control of Gadgetzan instead of two, there’s always help if one gang proves to be a little too powerful. The longer a particular gang leader goes undefeated, the more powerful players from the two rival gangs become. Should their dominance continue, the two other gangs will be able to call a truce and unite against their mutual foe. Just be careful, truces like that are known to disintegrate the moment their goal is accomplished.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my ideas on Mean Streets of Gadgetzan as much as I’ve enjoyed making this.
Now who’s got the upper hand?
Love this idea, However PvE players will cry because they don’t like PvP ( Which is understandable) So, maybe inside each district you are able to “Hire” A bodyguard (Disabled on PvP realms ) from a neutral place, similar to Dalaran’s Underbelly guards , and the PvP always zone could be the 2 street barriers.
Love this idea, however, I don’t enjoy the current iteration of PVP in the game so would appreciate a way to toggle it off or maybe have a bodyguard. I don’t mind the WQ aspect of PvP though so would do those whenever they popped.
Really well written and considered piece.