Category: Festivals

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Children’s Week: How to tick off everyone in one easy lesson

Children’s Week: How to tick off everyone in one easy lesson

| May 1, 2009 | Comments (10)

WhistleThe Children’s Week minicast is going to be coming out later today, after Starman gets home from work and can get the music tacked on and posted. But here is my general impression from having played a little of the PvP part of things, and having gotten my most dreaded part, the Warsong Gulch flag return:

Put simply, from what I could tell, pretty much everyone is miserable in battlegrounds right now.

There are an awful lot of inexperienced BGers who are not geared for PvP, don’t care if they win and don’t want to be there, which ticks off the real BG players. So, some of the hardcore players then take it out on the inexperienced players by ruining any attempts at cooperation so people can get their achievements and get the hell out of there. You’d think they’d either stay out of BGs until things clear off, or they would welcome people getting their achievements and getting the heck out of there, but no, they view these poor folks as sitting ducks and free HKs. You’d think, then, that they (the hardcore BGers) would be happy with the free HKs, but with games going on forever, no flags getting capped, and no real game going on, it just pisses them off further, which makes them more inclined to do things like camp rez points, etc.

I got my achievement because a very nice Alliance DK decided to go into our flag room, and pick up and deliberately drop the flag over and over and let people return it. Of course, this got ruined in short order by another couple Alliance DKs who decided that they’d use this opportunity to shoot fish in a barrel.

I’m not sure what Blizzard was thinking when they put this achievement in. Did they hope that they would introduce battlegrounds to players who had never tried them, by making them go into them for this achievement? Because if this was my first exposure to battlegrounds, let me tell you, I’d tell you that rather have my toenails ripped out than go back into one of those again. I know they can be better than what I have experienced right now.  The battlegrounds created by this debacle are places where tempers are even shorter than usual, and people aren’t really playing the game or put in any situation where they are encouraged to play the game (really, get the achievement and leave is almost the only bearable solution).

I feel sorry both for people getting achievements and for people who just like and want to play battlegrounds — though not sorry for the griefers who are taking advantage of the situation to make life as miserable as possible for anyone not “leet” enough for their league. I’ve heard stories of sustained cooperation and it would be nice to think that those are the rule rather than the exception. But so far, they’re not. This is going to be an ugly, ugly situation for the next several days. I just want to close my eyes and get through it.

I keep reminding myself: this is a game.

I do this for fun and relaxation.

Yeah, right.

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The next Ren-novation

The next Ren-novation

| April 28, 2009 | Comments (2)

I didn’t make up the term “Ren-novation”. I credit/blame Christy from Analog Hole Gaming. But it’s a good way to describe my fascination with stupid experiments.

UrsallaMeet Ursalla.

Ursalla is an orc shaman who is currently level 3. Her goal in life is to get as many achievements as she can get at the lowest possible levels, with a few parameters. We are currently in the season of Noblegarden, so lately she has been working primarily on the Noblegarden quests. My plan is to get her “the Noble” title as early as humanly (well, in her case, orcly) possible, while trying to conform to a number of internal rules:

I will not do achievements that are simply a matter of spending money. No “My Sack is Gigantique”, no buying seven bank slots, no buying pets for inflated prices off the auction house.

I will accept some help from my main (80 orc rogue) in terms of keeping her funded, sending her pets from places she can’t easily go or couldn’t acquire at her level (such as the pet vendor in Netherstorm, or non-BoP pets from the Oracle egg).

I will accept some occasional and limited help in the form of ports and summons. I accepted one port to Dalaran, so I can get to Shattrath and the major Horde cities easily. I will accept an occasional warlock summons if it would minimize my exploration experience, but NOT as a method for finishing an achievement. For example, I did accept a warlock summons to the hot springs in Un’goro, not because I am incapable of deathing my way across, but because I wanted to take out a chunk of exploration experience from Tanaris. However, I will walk (well, death-flop) my way from the hot springs to Silithus to finish a Noblegarden achievement there. I will not use a warlock summon to get somewhere I could only get with a flying mount, for example.

I also do not want to have a higher level clear paths for me. If I die, I die. I just won’t bother wearing anything that requires repairs.

The dreaded gatesOne of the challenges of this experiment is limiting experience gain. I want to level as slowly as possible because the point is to finish as many achievements as I can at the lowest levels possible. Exploration experience, then, is a real danger, but at the same time I want to do as much of it on my own as I can. The Noblegarden achievement set required traveling to Badlands, Tanaris, Desolace, Silithus, and Thousand Needles.

Ursalla walked from Undercity to Badlands. Well, perhaps “walked” is too generous a term; she death-flopped much of the way. As my friend Bean puts it, there is a difference between death-flopping and death-hopping.

Death-flopping means that when you die, you run to your body, move out to the furthest possible point where you can rez that goes in the direction you want to go, and then rez. Sometimes you get aggro immediately, and I have counted that in this case, you generally get 11-12 steps before you’re brutally murdered in the average 20-30 zone. Curiously, I had to death-flop nearly 20 times to get across Hillsbrad, but only twice crossing Arathi, a higher zone.

Death-hopping is advancing by making it to the next area where you get into a graveyard that advances you along your path. Ursalla did almost no death-hopping for one reason: she was trying to minimize discovery experience.

But travelling through these areas means that you die. You die a LOT. The pink dress and bunny ears have no durability — not much protection either, but it doesn’t really matter.

I have found that, if you are of a level that’s considerably lower than what the zone is rated for, you have to get further into a zone area to discover it than if you were of an appropriate level. If you stick to the roads, you can get little to no discovery experience at all. I didn’t hit any discovery experience from Undercity until I was halfway through Hillsbrad. Unfortunately, most graveyards are located in the middle of discovery-ripe areas, such as right in Hillsbrad village, inside Tarren Mill, etc. So in cases where I felt that I might discover something by rezzing in a graveyard, I still ran to my body to retrieve it, even if that meant running back a considerable distance.

Sticking to the roads, making no detours for flight points, and being careful about not rezzing in graveyards if I thought it would mean an area discovery minimized my discovery experience. However, it could not be avoided entirely. By the time I had run from Undercity to the Badlands and planted my flower JUST inside the zone, I had gotten just over 400 experience by discovery, and dinged from level 2 to level 3. Similarly, my run from Thunder Bluff to Thousand Needles and Tanaris was similarly uneventful from a discovery standpoint; I managed to limit discovery to just five areas: Bloodhoof Village, Camp Taurajo, the Great Lift, Freewind Post, and the Shimmering Flats.

As I write this blog post, she has completed several achievements: Shave and a Haircut (free at level 1), Represent (bought a guild tabard), Second That Emotion (the emotion foods are edible at level 1), Can I Keep Him (1 pet), and the following Noblegarden achievements: Found One, Chocolate Lover (still needs to eat 40 more for Chocoholic), Shake Your Bunny-Maker, Hard Boiled, Spring Fling, Noble Garden, and Blushing Bride. She will finish Desert Rose and Chocholic later today after the servers have come back. My hope and plan is that she will still be level 3 when she gets “The Noble” title.

She is well on her way toward finishing A Simple Re-quest (complete the same daily quest on 5 consecutive days; the Spring Gather daily is doable at her level), Plenty of Pets (10 is easily doable), It’s Always Happy Hour Somewhere (she’s drunk 15/25 drinks — amazing the amount of booze buyable in Dalaran that is drinkable at level 1) and Tastes Like Chicken (she’s eaten almost half of the 50 foods needed at level 1; having a toon with every cooking recipe except for the chimerok chops and the new recipes that will be introduced next Thanksgiving helps a lot). At 5 she will start on profession-related achievements such as fishing up 2000 fish, etc.  She also wants to /love critters, even if that means death-flopping her way across Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord, and finding as many books to read as she can.

There’s a surprising number of achievements that ARE possible at low levels. You just need a lot of patience, and a high tolerance for retrieving your body.

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“Logins are In the Air”

“Logins are In the Air”

| February 13, 2009 | Comments (11)
Will dance for rosesPlease note: the Love is In the Air minicast was published on February 11th. If you are looking for specific details on how to do these achievements, please download this podcast. This blog entry is strictly an op-ed piece.

Pronunciation: \ə-ˈchēv-mənt\
the act of achieving: to get or attain as the result of exertion
a result gained by effort b: a great or heroic deed

Apparently, in this case, “exertion” means the act of typing in your password and authenticator code in as often as possible.

“Love is in the Air” is Blizzard’s Valentine’s Day event. At a mere 6 days, it’s one of the shortest event windows out there, with 12 achievements that count toward the meta-achievement (getting the title and counting toward the “What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been” achievement and proto-drake), and 14 achievements in all. Here are the durations of other holidays with meta-achievements, with the number of associated achievements, past and future:
  • Winter Veil 2008/2009: 18 days, 12 achievements
  • Lunar Festival 2009: 20 days, 12 achievements
  • Children’s Week: 7 days (well, it DOES say “week”), 8 achievements (only 7 for meta-achievement)
  • Midsummer Fire Festival: 14 days, 12 achievements
  • Brewfest: 13 days, 9 achievements (only 8 for meta-achievement)
  • Hallow’s End: 15 days, 16 achievements
Love is In the Air has twice as many achievements as days to complete the entire cycle.  Only Children’s Week is nearly as short as Love is In the Air, but it’s one more day and five fewer achievements to complete. The remaining ones are nearly two weeks or longer.

There is another important distinction between the Love is In the Air achievement set and the other ones: almost all of the achievements rely on two things: luck and the ability to log in many, many times a day. To finish this achievement set, you need to have acquired 20 Unbestowed Friendship Bracelets, 10 Handful of Rose Petals, 10 Silver Shafted Arrows, 10 Love Rockets, an unspecified number of Boxes of Chocolates, and an unspecified number of Bags of Candies. The “unspecified number” means that in addition to the random element of getting the Box or Bag in the first place, there is yet another random feature of getting the right combination of chocolates or make the correct types of 8 candies. The Box of Chocolates is relatively easy — it’s not uncommon to find four types in the same box, but I know at least one person who has gotten four Boxes of Chocolates and still hasn’t sampled all four types.

I’ll get to the real bugaboo — the Bag of Candies — in a moment.

Unbestowed Friendship Bracelets are relatively easy, since you get 2-4 of these every time you get a Gift/Pledge of Adoration.However, if you’re unlucky with amounts, this means you are going to have to get ten Gifts/Pledges of Adoration to get enough bracelets to finish this.

The Love Fools are even easier because if you get in a group, you don’t even have to have these yourself — you just need to pity one, even if someone else drops it. You don’t need a Romantic Picnic Basket, because all you have to do is find a picnic with the same faction in Dalaran, sit down and enjoy.

The Rockets, Arrows, and Petals are all controllable to an extent because you can acquire 5 of these any time you turn in a Horde or Alliance Gift Collection, so you have a way, through effort, of making up for any shortfall there. Still, unless you’re willing to do the work to get six Horde/Alliance Gift Collections, you’re not going to get all of your rockets, arrows and petals this way (not to mention this is assuming you dispose of all of these with no mistakes and don’t need extras).

My real issue lies with the Bag of Candies. People across many, many servers are reporting an incredibly low drop rate with this particular item. You need to create 8 different candies using the bag, but you have no control over what you create. There are 10 charges per candy bag, so the chances of getting all 8 on your first bag are not high. Most reports I have heard suggest that most people need at least 3 bags to finish this achievement. True, there are some rare individuals who’ve gotten lucky, but these seem to be the exception, judging from the large number of complaint threads in the General, Customer Service, and Suggestions forums on the official boards. And the drop rate is unusually low — some people are estimating 2-3%. Blizzard has admitted the drop rate might be too low and they are looking into the situation.

I finished the Love is in the Air achievement set late this morning. My first candy bag got me 7 out of 8 of the candies. The second candy bag yielded nothing new. I finally finished it on the third candy bag.

How many times did I log on and get my Gift/Pledge of Adoration to finish? The answer: thirty-four times.

Over six days, this would be an average of 5.67 hourly check-ins per day. And I know people who have logged on more than that who still have not finished the luck-based ones.

I can do this for one reason: I am self employed and work in the same office with my gaming computer. Every hour, I would log onto Maggie and get my Gift/Pledge of Adoration, set the timer I keep in my office, log off. When the timer goes off, I log on again, get another Gift/Pledge, reset the timer, rinse and repeat.

But, what about people with normal away-from-home jobs, or school, or kids with parents who won’t let them log on hourly from morning to night? Blizzard has a tip about spending time with your friends out of World of Warcraft as well as in it, but this “achievement” seems to mean the opposite. As my friend Christy said, it’s more like a stress test of Blizzard’s login servers.

I don’t mind difficult achievements. As much as I am not looking forward to some of the PvP achievements during Children’s Week, for example, I’d rather do those than simply have a marathon login session in the hope that I MIGHT get lucky and get what I need to complete the achievement. Logging in, checking in with a guard, opening a package and logging out doesn’t seem like I am really exerting any effort. It’s just luck. Plain old, blind, random luck. And so much of this achievement set is purely that: random luck.

One suggestion made by Fuschia of the Shattered Hand server that I wholeheartedly endorse is to add the Bag of Candies to the Horde/Alliance Gift Collection reward options. This would allow people to farm those the way they can farm petals, arrows, or rockets, and give one more opportunity to substitute work for luck.

Oh, and the troll picture? That’s Taheisha, my level 1 troll rogue I had ported up to Dalaran to make life easier for everyone. Whisperwind has a population of over 28,000, only 120 troll rogues over level 10, and only 24 over level 70, so that’s not many troll rogues to throw rose petals at, particularly for Alliance characters. I made her to stand up on the north bank steps to help people finish the rose petal chucking achievement. Given the amount of time she spends with multiple stacks of rose petals, I’d guess the effort was appreciated.

Update: Apparently, Blizzard both claimed that the Bag of Candies was working as intended, but also applied a hotfix to increase the drop rate. Contradict much?

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A Warm Place

A Warm Place

| June 24, 2008 | Comments (0)

The Midsummer Fire Festival started in Azeroth. Previously, this was one of the absolute lamest holiday festivities in the game. This year, Blizzard put a new twist on the festiviites.

Previously, the best item you could get was the [item]Captured Flame[/item], a little red wisp that followed you everywhere. The other items were a set of shoulders and headpiece which were pretty useless. Pets are at least interesting to show off and don’t require you to change equipment to do so. In order to get the [item]Captured Flame[/item] you had to visit each opposing factions’ bonfires and steal them all.

This year, there’s a Midsummer Fire Festival vendor which sells items based on the number of Burning Blossoms you have. This year, I went for the [item]Brazier of Dancing Flames[/item].

Apart from the prizes, you either get a boatload of gold, or a boatload of XP. This year, Blizzard put bonfires in most of the flightpoints and towns in the game for both factions. If you honor your faction’s bonfire you get 5 Burning Blossoms, and at most 5000 XP if you’re under level 70, or 5g 99s if you’re level 70. If you visit an opposing faction’s bonfire, you get 10 Burning Blossoms, and at most 9000 XP if you’re under level 70, or 11g 99s if you’re level 70.

This allowed me to go from 56 to 58 in less than a day without doing anything more than going from flight point to flight point. I would suggest checking WoWWiki’s page on the festival to get a list of bonfires to visit for each faction so that you spend less time travelling and more time getting XP or gold.

There are two daily quests that you can do: Torch Catching and Torch Tossing. Torch Tossing is easy, you toss a torch into marked spots in a certain period of time. TIP: Set up a hotkey for your torch. Torch Catching is where you throw torches in the air and catch them as they fall. TIP: follow the shadow of the torch on the ground. The first toss is always high and long, the others are short.