Well, it’s time. Ever since the previews for patch 8.2 were released there has been sporadic discussion here and there regarding, quite possibly, one of the more interesting races yet introduced; the Ankoan. This thread is all about those crazy fish folk, and its creation is aimed to accomplish a few key objectives.
- Document everything currently known about the Ankoan race and continue to provide updates as more information is released.
- Give players a place to voice their support with regards to Ankoan as a playable Alliance race.
- Evaluate the likelihood of Ankoan ever being added in a playable capacity.
- Discuss their role as a major feature of 8.2 as both NPCs and bodyguards.
- Examine what, if anything, they would add to the Alliance.
Important Note: As will be explained in the lore section, “Ankoan” and “Jinyu” are slightly different expressions of the exact same race. Therefore, while the term “Ankoan” will be predominantly used throughout this thread thanks to the term’s relevance in the 8.2 questing experience, much of what can be said about the Ankoan will also be applicable to the Jinyu. Their lore and mechanical implementation are intertwined. If anything, the emergence of the Ankoan has resulted in a resurgence of relevance for the Jinyu that hasn’t been seen since Mists of Pandaria, but unfortunately there is no “umbrella term” that unites both groups as one race (such as Stormwind Humans and Kul Tiran Humans both being united by the term “human.”)
Therefore, one should be aware that when “Ankoan” is being used to describe the race as a whole, there are multiple situations where what is being said is also applicable to the Jinyu encountered in the Jade Forest on Pandaria.
Regarding Format: The remainder of this thread (so as to not make it a giant text wall) will consist of drop-down sections. Should you wish to read their contents, you need only click on the arrow next to the bolded text.
FINAL NOTE: Everything in this thread is subject to change. Everything we know about this potential race is constantly changing and, as such, this thread is in a constant state of ongoing development.
Are Jinyu and Ankoans the Same Race?
For the purposes of this thread, yes. The Alliance adventurer has a chance to ask Blademaster Okani, who serves as their racial leader and the main liaison during the Alliance questing experience, whether or not ankoans are related to the jinyu. He simply states that his clan left the land long ago. The ankoans have more bestial features when compared to their jinyu cousins, but they still largely look like jinyu at first glance, which likely indicates that the difference between an ankoan and a jinyu is probably akin to the difference between a night elf and a nightborne.
Within the game’s files, the ankoan voice lines are named “deep_jinyu.” It is safe to assume that the ankoans are merely a group of jinyu that adapted to different environmental circumstances or who were affected by lingering old god influences. An analogue to the jinyu/ankoa situation is the drust found in Drustvar. The term “drust” is used to denote race, but it would be more appropriate to deem them as a “tribe” as the drust are merely a group of Vrykul who left their home years ago and settled in Kul Tiras.
Who Leads the Ankoans?
That would be Blademaster Okani. This is how his NPC looks in the game files at present;
Everything About Fish Lore
The Ankoan are a race of fish-men encountered by the Alliance after the disastrous destruction of the Horde and Alliance fleets above Nazjatar. After surviving Azshara’s trap, Alliance adventurers are lent aid by Blademaster Okani, who currently appears to be the leader of the faction, and is brought to the Ankoan base camp where they continue their struggle against Azshara. The Alliance continues to work alongside the Ankoan for the entirety of 8.2’s story.
However, the Ankoan as a race has a heritage that stretches back thousands of years. In the center of Pandaria’s continent lies the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, a location that once served as a laboratory of sorts for the Titanic-Keeper Freya and one of three places linked to the power of the Well of Eternity. Over fifteen thousand years ago, the power of the Vale had a dramatic impact over the murlocs that happened to live in its vicinity. Over time, their bodies and minds expanded, and they became the jinyu. The jinyu were so advantaged by the new transformation that they quickly became one of the first empires to form on the Pandarian continent, predating both the mogu and Pandaren empires. At some point in the jinyu empire’s history they were approached by the simian race the hozen, who had recently settled in the area and sought out the jinyu for aid in adapting to this new land. Although the jinyu shared what they knew, they would ultimately be betrayed by the hozen when the mogu invaders came to conquer the native Pandarian races.
The Jinyu empire would eventually fall to the savagery of the mogu, but after the mogu themselves were overthrown the Jinyu swore fealty to the Pandaren empire that followed and, as a result, shared in the power of this new empire. At least one emperor in this period, Rassharom, was a Jinyu. After the eventual dissolution of the Pandaren empire with the death of its final emperor, Shaohao, much of the government that remained in Pandaria was organized on the local level. The Jinyu’s “capitol,” if it can even truly be considered one, is now located at Pearlfin Village in the Jade Forest. The residents of Pearlfin village enjoy local autonomy and a place to practice their culture in relative seclusion, but tensions between the jinyu and hozen stretching back to the latter’s betrayal of the former in the face of the mogu invasion have flared up, and the two races are in a state of active war by the time the Alliance arrives on the continent. Much of the jinyu’s edge in battle has dulled over the years, and so the Alliance effectively militarizes Pearlfin village by distributing weapons and assisting in combat training. The Alliance-Jinyu coalition is ultimately able to wipe out the forest hozen and kill their leader, Gukgut, who was responsible for orchestrating attacks on Pearlfin Village. The Pearlfin jinyu largely disappear from the narrative at this point.
Although the jinyu are incredibly suited to water travel due to their unique biology, the vast majority of Jinyu architecture (if not all of it) is actually constructed on land, although it is surrounded by the moderately sized Pearlfin Lake. It would appear, however, that at least one Jinyu clan objected to the lifestyle of the Jinyu at Pearlfin. The Alliance adventurer can ask Blademaster Okani of the Ankoan if he is related to the Jinyu, and he has this to say;
“Our clan hunts the deep oceans. We left the land behind long ago.”
The exact point at which the tribe Okani speaks of broke from the larger jinyu society is not currently known, but the current ankoan physiology presents a few possibilities. In general, ankoans carry a far more feral appearance, with jagged teeth, bioluminescent appendages hanging near their mouths, and enlarged fins protruding from their heads and elbows. The bestial nature of the ankoans is emphasized, and it would not be inaccurate to describe them as a cross between a jinyu and a deep sea murloc. This presents three distinct possibilities;
Possibility 1: The ankoan tribe split from the jinyu extremely early in the race’s formation, while they were transitioning from murloc to jinyu. As the jinyu started to adopt a more land-based civilization, the ankoans split off and returned to the depths of the sea, effectively prematurely cutting off their exposure to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. As a result, ankoans aren’t as “cooked” as the jinyu are, and still retain elements of their murloc heritage that would have disappeared had they remained near the Vale.
Possibility 2: When Azshara made the “bargain” with N’zoth ten thousand years ago, the Jinyu had already been active for at least five thousand years. The mutations N’zoth imposed upon the drowning night elves that transformed them into naga could have had a sort of collateral damage affect on nearby creatures, which could have included nearby jinyu that were hunting for sustenance. Now of a more monstrous appearance when compared to the traditionally peace-oriented jinyu, those that became the Ankoa decided to sever themselves from their land-borne cousins and direct their vengeance upon Azshara and the naga.
Possibility 3: The ankoans left the jinyu very late in the race’s history, possibly at some point after the dissolution of the Pandaren Empire. After hunting in the deep seas for many years, the ankoans adapted to their new surroundings by natural means (or about as natural as a race that is already affected by powerful magics such as the Vale of Eternal Blossoms can be) and remained in such a harsh environment in order to eradicate the naga presence.
Whatever the backstory of the ankoans turns out to be, it is clear that the tribe has made it its personal mission to drive the naga into extinction, and they will fight to do so even if it means the death of every last one of them. Currently, datamined text indicates that the ankoans worship neptulon as a patron deity of sorts, and Neptulon has been a fierce enemy of the naga and all old god forces stretching all the way back to the days of Cataclysm. It is not clear whether or not Neptulon is currently directing the ankoans as if they were his personal militia, but they at least share his conviction for the extermination of the naga as a race.
Are the Ankoans a Viable Candidate for an Allied Race?
Technically speaking, anything is a viable candidate for an allied race. In terms of mechanical viability, however, we can compare the current level of development seen with the ankoan models with those of, say, the Vulpera.
Although the vulpera are not yet confirmed as an allied race, it is generally accepted that they will be made playable at some point. This is largely because the Vulpera;
Have both male and female models.
Have geosets that allow for the visual representation of player gear.
Share a working skeleton with an already-playable race, the goblins.
Feature an extensive amount of working customization options such as fur color.
Have certain animations tweaked so that they appear unique when used by a Vulpera, such as their tail tucking itself around them when they lie down.
The ankoans, in contrast;
DO NOT currently have female models in the game.
DO share a working skeleton with a currently playable race, the night elves.
DO NOT currently allow for player gear to be visually placed on the models.
DO NOT have any animation work done to emphasize visual distinction.
DO NOT currently have customization options that players can tinker with.
Everything here is also applicable to the jinyu race encountered in the Jade forest.
However, it should be noted that 8.2 is still in its alpha stages, and much of what we see is either subject to change or could be elaborated on in future patches. Some optimistic speculation exists to keep hope for playable ankoans alive;
- According to comments on MMOChampion, female ankoan voice files have been datamined. It is not clear whether these files will be attributed to male models (thus making the ankoans an androgynous race just like the sethrak) or if female models are in development.
- It should be noted, however, that all jinyu encountered in Pearlfin Village are exclusively male, so the developers could have represented the ankoans the same way if they really wanted to. The decision to include female ankoa, even if they are just represented through sheer tone of voice, is an inherently interesting observation.
- It should also be noted that the possibility of a playable androgynous race should not be inherently discredited. It would certainly be a new design decision that has not been emulated before, but it would also resolve many of the issues inherent in the concept of a “female” jinyu. Obviously, one cannot, and should not, simply put breasts on a fish.
- Although Kul Tirans and Zandalari were introduced in patch 8.0 of BFA, which launched in late August, they were not made playable until 8.1.5, which launched in March of 2019. During that time, the majority of animation work and customization options that brought the races into a playable capacity was completed; until that time, they were strictly NPCs. This exact same pattern was observed with the Nightborne, who used exclusively non-playable models during their storyline in Legion yet had a playable rig designed for them so that they could be used by players in the months leading up to BFA’s launch.
- With that in mind, ankoans could be following that pattern as well; introduced first as NPCs, and then made playable after their story arc has concluded. We are still many months away from that happening.
- The Horde is presented with an abundance of potential candidates for future allied races, from San’layn, to Vulpera, to Gilgoblins and even Sethrak. Currently, the only new races that lean towards the Alliance are the Junker Gnomes of Mechagon and the Ankoans of Nazjatar. If allied races continue to be a major feature for BFA, there aren’t many options that are better (at least at present) for the Alliance than the ankoans.
With all that in mind, it would perhaps be wisest for support for playable ankoans to take the form of tentative optimism, although enthusiastic desire is more than welcome to at least indicate community approval and, perhaps, indicate to the developers that this is a concept worth spending development time on.
How do we Know Female Jinyu/Ankoans Even Exist in lore?
Although Hearthstone is not strictly canon to WoW lore, they have already tinkered with the idea of female Jinyu. The card art “Gadgetzan Ferryman” presents one possible design direction (and yes, it seems to have breasts).
EDIT; Thanks to Gawp finding a video posted by Youtube user Noone 182, we have confirmation that female ankoans are in the game. The video will be linked at the very end of this thread. No word yet on their models.
What Would Ankoans Even Bring to the Alliance, and Why Should We Ask for Them?
There are a few things the ankoans have going for them. Playable naga and murlocs have been a recurring suggestion for a while now, but placing a traditionally-villainous race in the hands of players would not only be jarring, it may also run the risk of “jumping the shark” in terms of lore development. If every villain race has the potential of ending up conscripted onto one faction or the other, it cheapens the iconic nature of said race and the threat they represent. Furthermore, murlocs and naga have presented technical problems for years now when it comes to playable inclusion.
How can you stick armor on a murloc? How can naga mount and/or jump when they have no legs? At least in terms of the latter problem, one prevailing suggestion was to give the naga a more humanoid form that they can switch to for RP purposes like the worgen do, but there’s nothing in-lore to suggest that such a form is plausible, and turning a naga into a night elf temporarily wouldn’t even be possible for most naga that never were night elves to begin with (as we see that, over the course of ten thousand years, the naga have continued to breed and we have encountered naga children before).
The humanoid ankoans present a spectacular compromise. They are fish-like in appearance, formerly murlocs by lore, and their humanoid skeletons do not present technical limitations when it comes to performing traditional player actions.
The other thing that makes ankoans enticing is that they represent a brand new, interesting culture for the Alliance. There is a significant disparity between max-level Alliance players and max-level Horde players, and the Alliance has a bad reputation of being the “boring faction.” While I personally disagree with this assessment, it is easy to see where it comes from. Humans, dwarves, and gnomes, as an example, are all visually similar with the main distinction being their specific height. Compare this with orcs, tauren, and trolls who all have wildly different appearances at first glance. In contrast, dwarves could be considered “short humans” with gnomes being even “shorter humans.” The fact that the Alliance is unified by nearly-identical ethical standards across all its races has also resulted in it being described as more than a bit boring.
A new bestial race as interesting as the ankoans are would go a long way in combating many of the stereotypes that plague perception of the Alliance, and would benefit the faction as a whole, even if only slightly. The ankoans especially are a warrior-like culture determined to eradicate their foes by any means necessary, but their Jinyu heritage may have instilled the traditional values of trust, loyalty, and seeking peace at the appropriate time in their culture as well; the same values that made the Pearlfin friends to the Alliance. As such, the ankoans have a unique position where they can walk the line between civility and savagery, making them excellent additions to the Alliance’s ranks, albeit perhaps one that many would prefer to keep at arm’s length.
What Would the Class List Be for a Playable Ankoan Race?
We don’t even need to speculate on this. The game provides definitive answers for all 12 classes.
Warrior: YES. You train them in Pearlfin Village. Also represented amongst the Ankoans by Blademaster Okani and Bladesman Inowari.
Mage: YES. You train them in Pearlfin Village.
Hunter: YES. Represented by the Ankoan bodyguard, Hunter Akana.
Paladin: NO. The ankoans only have a casual relationship with the light for its healing purposes. They do not have a devout military order devoted to it.
Rogue: YES. You train them in Pearlfin Village.
Warlock: NO. Jinyu culture is largely inimical to the use of demon magics. Ankoans currently don’t use them.
Priest: YES. You train them in Pearfin Village.
Shaman: YES. Represented by the Ankoan bodyguard, Farseer Ori.
Druid: NO. No race connected to the Pandarian continent has ever grappled with druidism.
Monk: YES. The jinyu/ankoan link to Pandaria’s history makes this a no-brainer.
Death Knight: NO. Arthas likely never met a jinyu in his entire life.
Demon Hunter: NO. Illidan had very high standards. He was also an elf supremacist.
What Would Customization Options Consist Of?
This is where the design team could get extremely creative. Obviously, ankoans have no hair, so a replacement would have to be the designs of their fins on their heads. Currently, there is only one “fin style,” but this could change over time. Scale color (their version of skin color) would be an obvious thing to change, but it would also be interesting to be able to tinker with their mouth and facial appendages. Your ankoan could look as bestial as the fiercest of the ankoan’s blademasters, or as tame as the most tranquil of the jinyu’s waterspeakers. Playable ankoans open up a wide array of potential avenues for your fish to look as badass as you want to make him.
Can I Name Mine BarracudaObama?
Yes, you may.
Can I Name Mine ErrolFinn?
No, you may not.
Various Videos and Images of Ankoans as they Appear Now
Unfortunately I don’t have the space to install the PTR on my computer at the current time, so snapshots will have to come from other sources that I’ll keep an eye out for. However, WoWChakra put out a video showing off ankoan animations (they’re exactly the same as the night elf male’s, so don’t get too excited).
WoWhead also datamined a bunch of ankoan NPCs. Here are the ones I screenshotted. As soon as I see more images of these guys pop up, I’ll be sure to include them.
Finally, this video posted by Noone182 contains a myriad of voices used by Ankoan NPCs, including 2 of the 3 potential bodyguards and a bunch of generic ankoan npcs. Voices start at 0:15. As you can hear, there are distinctly feminine voices mixed in with the rest, confirming the existence of female ankoans.