What a Long Strange Trip It Could Be. Again.

What a Long Strange Trip It Could Be. Again.

“Love is in the Air” in World of Warcraft this week with the Valentine’s Day holiday events. I logged in on Monday excited to see some new stuff, but then I opened up my achievement panel (on an alt no less) and saw this:

2014 02 10 21 19 17 World of Warcraft What a Long Strange Trip It Could Be. Again.

Oh. Well okay then!

I can still kill the special boss every day for a chance at a Big Love Rocket (hurr hurr), but this is about the fourth time in a row that I’ve been excited for a holiday event and then realized that I already did everything years ago.

And I do mean years ago. Blizzard originally introduced the What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been meta achievement for completing holiday events in 2008. Even considering the achievement takes a year to complete, that’s still a loooooong time.

2014 02 10 21 19 38 World of Warcraft What a Long Strange Trip It Could Be. Again.

I would love to see Blizzard completely redo this meta achievement and all the holidays. I have very fond memories of logging on for the first day of a holiday event and seeing everyone, raiders and altaholics alike, running around completing the quests. Plus, a year-long achievement was a really cool idea and I know lots of people who resubscribed just to knock off a holiday for the meta.

I certainly don’t want anyone to get left out of their violet protodrake right now, but six years is a long time, particularly in a game that doesn’t get a huge influx of totally brand new players. Making achievements account-wide was cool for a number of reasons, but really only exacerbated the holiday problem.

So look, Blizzard: Maybe the strange alternate time stream in Warlords of Draenor also changed all of the holidays? Think about it!

Split 10/25 Achievements!

Last night was our first 25s raid since October, and we ended up killing the first two bosses in Blackwing Descent. I was pretty excited to be getting back to “serious” raiding, although within minutes of our raid starting I was reminded why I was looking forward to the break in the first place.

My guild is full of lovely responsible adults, but there is still a lot of Cat herding that comes with big raids. New folks have procedural questions, reserves want status updates, I’m trying to track down that 25th person who is nowhere to be found, and so on. Sometimes it’s not a problem, but occasionally (particularly yesterday when I too am facing new content and new spells and omg omg) it’s a smidge overwhelming.

We did very well and had a great time, though! I’m looking forward to seeing more of the fights.

Now that I have seen both 10s and 25s in action to some degree, I must again express my displeasure with both raid tracks sharing achievements. This has nothing to do with the difficulty of the fights themselves (25 Omnomnomnitron seemed easier than 10s, for what that’s worth), but more with the organizational aspects. It is much quicker for 10 people to get ready for raiding than 25.

It is also easier, I think, in the majority of cases for 10s to take on raid achievements, such as those usually required for tier mounts. It’s just the nature of organization — coordinating complicated actions will generally be easier with 10 people.

I’m fully prepared to admit that it’s just sour grapes, but I’m kind of put off by the fact that although there are only three guilds on my server currently raiding with a 25s team (as far as I can tell), we are 20th or something in overall progression according to the new unified system. For raid size to truly be an issue of whatever you prefer to do, as Blizzard said, then 10s should compete with 10s, and 25s should compete with 25s. This is almost impossible to track right now, hence the need for seperate team size achievements.

I suspect that even the most casual of casualcore raiding guilds like to know how much they’re keeping up with the Joneses, and a strong server ranking definitely helps with recruitment. I really am not saying that one size is better than the other, or deserves more treats. I just want an even playing field.

Okay, enough whining. One helpful Magmaw tip: Misdirect worms to felguard(s). They can’t get infected and hold great aggro. (Props to guildie Liseth for figuring this out.)

No Pet For You!

No Pet For You!

November 23, 2010 is the sixth anniversary of World of Warcraft. For the fourth and fifth anniversaries, players received a pet and a Feat of Strength. The three years before that I don’t believe we were given anything.

This year on the anniversary we will see the debut of two continents worth of overhauled zones, new quests, and new class/race combinations. I’m speaking, of course, of patch 4.03a or The Shattering of Azeroth. To my mind, that’s a pretty good anniversary present, even without an additional special pet. Others apparently disagree.

In fact, I cannot believe the amount of hysteria that this lack of pet has caused. I’m not talking about feeling a little disappointed. I can see how one might expect a new pet this year and be momentarily sad that there isn’t one. I am, however, talking about the full wailing and gnashing of teeth going on on assorted forums right now. The lack of a sixth anniversary pet is a slap in the face, it’s inspiring swearing fits, and it’s just another sign that Blizzard hates you and everything you love.

I would feel a lot differently about this if the potential pet was for a player’s sixth anniversary with the game. That would be something that was actually earned. But next week is the game’s anniversary, not necessarily ours, and judging by previous years all players would have to do to get the pet is log on. Someone could log on for their very first day of WoW and get the achievement. It’s not actually much of an accomplishment.

babymoonkin No Pet For You!I have also seen a lot of posts accusing Blizzard of withholding a pet to “force” people to buy the new baby moonkin and Lil’ Ragnaros pets. Complaining that a business is attempting to take your money seems silly at best, and I don’t think it even applies to this situation. Dedicated WoW players are, generally, collectors and completionists. We are hardly likely to get a free pet and decide that we never need another one ever again. Instead, I suspect most of us want ALL the pets. More pets! And mounts! And tabards!

If you want a case of, in my opinion, Blizzard really dropping the ball and treating the players poorly look at this year’s Brewfest Stein. It was the same stein as last year, and there was no 2010 Feat of Strength associated with it unlike the previous three years.

In this case though demanding a Cataclysmic event and a new pet in the same week seems a little excessive. We’re going to get a Feat of Strength to mark that we were here, and otherwise let’s all take a deep breath and remember that in just six more days it’s a whole new ballgame.

Achieving in 3.3

Achieving in 3.3

So yesterday I wrote a little mini-manifesto to the guild, although I don’t think it was very shocking. It was just basically reminding people that 3.3 is here, and it was time to buckle down and knock this last raid instance out of the park.

The raiding in 3.2 was so terrible that I felt bad marching people through achievements and hard modes. I stood in that room three nights a week at least (25s and 10s), and even my infamously unlimited resources of guild cheerleadering were being taxed. It was pretty easy to just wipe out ToC, Ony, and VoA in 90 minutes and then tell everyone to go do something fun. Plus, some people don’t really dig achievements, and get a little shirty when they wipe for an hour to get some flashing lights and a noise that they don’t care about anyway. (Side note, but to those people I say, “Suck it up, buttercup.” You don’t like it, go talk to Blizz and tell them their new raiding paradigm is stupid.  Bosses don’t matter any more, per se. It’s all about achievements and hard modes. Personally, I like it.)

Anyway, previously the time requirement was a huge block to our competitive progress as a guild. As it stands now though the time demands of raiding are greatly diminished. After the holidays we will be raiding 9 hours a week (three nights at three hours) which should handily cover farming, progressing, and achievements. And no, server ranking isn’t everything, but it’s somewhat satisfying to see your guild name in lights, and it DOES help a lot with recruiting.

Without that time limitation, competitive progression relies upon player skill, teamwork, gear, and proper motivation from the gal upstairs… oh crap! That’s me! Hence the manifesto. So we started off our new achivement-happy stance by picking off “On A Boat” and “I’ve Gone and Made a Mess” on our second clear of ICC. The latter took a little strategy and a few wipes, and the former was chaos and madness and chanting “shootit shootit shootit shootit” at the cannoneers. The result of our little adventures?

 Achieving in 3.3

Which, you know, doesn’t actually MEAN that much, except that we are a guild of determined spazzes with a rocket pack fixation. As a pally said, “WTF are other guilds doing right now? Underwater basketweaving?” All it took was a little motivation and 45 minutes of patience from the team, and we saw results unlike those we’ve ever seen before.

So to all you other ‘casualcore’ guilds out there: You don’t need time to be recognized as badass! This is kind of the dawn of our era. Knock that 3.2 lethargy out of your head, go forth, and achieve. As Newton — or was it Ghostcrawler? — said, a guild in motion tends to stay in motion.

Midsummer Fire Festival

Midsummer Fire Festival

Enough about raiding, recruiting, killing, and stupid 3.2 priest nerfs and weird instance timers that make me want to GRAB A PUPPY AND THROTTLE IT AND O– wait! Right. Sorry. Scratch that last bit.

This Sunday is the Midsummer Fire Festival, which means it’s time for another crazed session of achievement grinding! I like world events quite a bit, and I will be sad when Brewfest is over in September and I have my violet protodrake and all the completed meta achievements to go with it.

Anyway, let’s go over the six achievements needed to earn the the “Flame Warden” title:

Ice the Frost Lord
ahune Midsummer Fire FestivalSlay Ahune in Heroic Slave Pens. The official Midsummer Fire Festival page still says that Ahune is level 70, but I suspect he’ll be level 80 this year. Head into Slave Pens, clear just past the first room, and talk to the new NPC Luma Cloudsister to summon the big fella. He had a lot of adds last year that kind of added up, so assuming he’s level 80 you’ll likely need a full group of 5. Ahune also can drop a Scorchling pet and the completely badass-looking Frostscythe of Lord Ahune, so you’ll likely want to kill him a lot.

King of the Fire Festival
Complete the Thief’s Reward quest by stealing the flames from all of the major cities of the opposite faction. This is a great quest to do late at night, or early in the morning. If it’s like last year, the Undercity flames are easy, and the Orgrimmar one (right outside Thrall’s chamber!) is the most difficult. This quest gives you a Crown of the Fire Festival as a reward, which you need for later achievements.

Desecration of the Horde/Alliance and The Fires of Azeroth
A holiday staple, these are the “ha ha, you have to go back to Azeroth” achievments. Fly around Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms, and Outland and honor or extinguish fires in both Alliance and Horde towns. Fortunately, doing this will give you lots of Burning Blossoms, which is the currency for Fire Festival vendor items. Assuming you have nothing from last year, you’ll need 400 Blossoms to buy the entire Fire Festival outfit, which is required for other achievements…

Burning Hot Pole Dance
… such as this one! Getting the set will take a bit of time, but otherwise this achivement is simple. Don your full Midsummer set and dance at (aka use) any of the ribbon poles for 60 seconds.

Torch Juggler
And here is the achievement I’ve been dreading. Juggle 40 torches in 15 seconds. I’m not sure of the actual mechanics of this quest, but the juggling torches daily last year caused me no end of grief. I suppose I am just not destined to be a circus clown.

And that’s it! Those achievements are a little time consuming, but pretty simple and lacking any of that RNG madness that people hate. Happy Midsummer!

Breaking Hearts and Other Hard Modes

Breaking Hearts and Other Hard Modes

It’s been a tough couple of weeks on the 25-man Ulduar front. Summer doldrums, patch days, and at least one night where we all just had the dumb have combined to mire us in the Keepers of Ulduar, with Vezax perpetually out of reach (not to mention Yoggie). Even our two 10 man groups had developed a bit of lethargy or fallen apart completely in the face of Mimiron.

With that in mind, I set about putting together a Really Kickass Group for u10 this weekend. The key to a good 10s group, I find, is not just numbers or situational awareness — a lot of it is just making sure you have the buffs and class synergy you need. Blizz can chant “bring the player, not the class” all they want, but that’s not going to make me feel any better about attempting hard modes without Kings or Heroism. Some class tricks are still essential. The group I was in on Friday night was Prot Warrior, Feral Druid (cat/OT), DK-of-many-specs (DPS/OT), Enh Shaman, Boomkin, Shadow Priest, Destro Lock, Disc Priest, Holy Priest, Holy Pally. We were lacking any misdirect or tricks of the trade, but otherwise it definitely covered all the basics.

This set up, and the players to go with it, kicked butt. Previously our 10s had focused on just killing as many bosses as possible or scouting new ones for the 25-man raids, so I suggested that we try something different and give the achievements a shot. And we did!

broken heart 300x225 Breaking Hearts and Other Hard ModesFirst up was Orbital Devistation, which we got on the second try with ease. We left up the Storm and Life towers. Engine passengers were tasked with shooting plants. For 10s we only use one bike and have one person on Flame Leviathan at a time (in Heroic we use three bikes and two launchees), and rotate so there are Demo passengers gathering pyrite at all times. Keeping up that pyrite stack is really key to this encounter, particularly as you add towers.

Next was our first true “hard mode”, killing the heart on XT. I know this used to be one of the most difficult hard modes in the game before the nerfs, and we.. one-shot it. If you have the raw DPS needed, hard mode is arguably easier than regular XT! We pulled him between the trash piles on the left of his room, facing the wall. Melee moved to one corner with light and gravity bombs. Ranged stayed roughly in a straight line at max range, and moved backwards for gravity and forwards for light. Casters picked off sparks, with a little help from melee when necessary. As for the heart phase itself, we had everyone DPSing, healers included, and were probably about 3 seconds away from not making it in time. Healing was pretty intense — I’m glad we had three of us. Anyway, we nabbed not only Heartbreaker, but also Nerf Engineering.

Kologarn (OOOOOOOOOOOOOOBLIVION!) passed without event, although we gave a half-hearted try for With Open Arms and got dang close. (Hit Kolo’s body, and ignore the arm until he squeezes someone. DPS the arm until he lets them go. You have about six squeezes until his arm dies, so DPS the body hard.)

So, an admission: since 3.1 came out, I have wanted the Crazy Cat Lady achivement. My guild is the Cats, I am, technically, a lady, and frankly we’re all crazy. It just seemed like the achievement made for me. So when we got to Auri, I knew what had to be done. And indeed, this achievement is insane! We had a tank on each Sentry keeping them separate but not TOO separate so as to be terminally feared away from the healers. DPS made killing the Feral Defender their top priority (usually we ignore it on regular mode) because healer interrupts were extremely bad. It took probably an hour or so to get this achievement, and a healthy dose of luck. Get feared at the wrong time, or damage spikes on all three tanks at once, or an interrupt on the wrong healer and everything tumbles.

We capped off the evening with a few attempts at Thorim’s hard mode. We were worried at first that we wouldn’t even be able to start it, but with five people down the gauntlet Sif was still waiting for us with 30 seconds to spare. (And an achievement for our troubles, Siffed.) That was where our luck ended, though, as the raid got torn to pieces within moments. I think our best attempt saw Thorim down to about 40%, which is nothing to sneeze at. This achievement needs a little more research and maybe more frost resist gear. That Sif is a mean apparition!

Even more important than the achievements is the fact that everyone was in great spirits after this run. It was nice to get together with friends in the more relaxed 10-man environment and just kick the stuffing out of everything. And the good mood spilled over to Sunday, where the same group with a few switches finally killed Mimiron on 10s (and Freya+1) — a one-shot, no less! Often I curse the tandem 10 / 25 / hard mode setup that Blizz favors now, but I have to admit that occasionally it works out pretty well.

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