Monday, January 9, 2012

Top 5...worst grinds

I put off playing (starting) wow for a really long time. Being a longtime blizzard fangirl, I knew about it the moment it was released, and I knew I should stay away from it. Almost since the initial launch, people recommended it to me. People asked me if I played it. People asked me why I didn't play it.

MMORPGs are like crack cocaine to me, you see. The first MMORPG I ever tried had me glued at the computer screen for an entire summer where I slept 6 hours a day and spent the other 18 hours nonstop gaming. I realized it was a very dangerous drug and consciously forced myself to never pick up any other MMO.

I think what's so addictive is that whole concept of neverending goals. There are nearly an infinite number of things to do, new levels to attain and new things to do that gets you logging in night after night.

I think it's certainly what makes WoW so damn hard to quit. There are so many big and small things to do. Big things like end-game raiding, completing a legendary, getting a full set of heroic raid tier gear, getting server first kills, getting your 2200 arena rating, etc. Then there are the little things like collecting pets, getting rare vanity items, holiday events, finding easter eggs...the list goes on and on.

What really revolutionized all this was the introduction of the achievement system, which every single MMO (and even other unrelated games like mobile app games - farmiville etc) has adopted by now. Now not only do YOU know that you're a proud owner of that rare mount or you killed that raid boss, but the whole world (potentially, although I doubt anyone else really looks) knows it too! Seeing that achievement tab light up whenever you complete an objective gives players a much more tangible goal to work towards, and thus a bigger incentive than ever to keep playing.

I, for one, am a total achievement junkie. There are some pretty ridiculous things that I've sunk countless hours into for the sake of one achievement, or title, or mount. My list of WoW achievements are very impressive and at the same time, very very sad, knowing how many hours were sunk into it.

So without further ado, here is my own personal top 5 craziest grinds I've suffered through just for the sake of "achieving" something.

5. The Loremaster

Basically, do every single quest, ever. While this seems like an awful grind, it actually wasn't the most painful (but still the 5th most painful) grind. With Cataclysm, they practically cut in half the number of quests required in each zone so that you really only needed to do half - 3/4 of the available quests in each Azeroth zone.

They did not, however, nerf the quest numbers for Outland and Northrend, so those were definitely an annoying grind. By far the worst zones were Area 54, where I lost the highly linear quest trail and was abruptly cut off and forced to wander for an hour or so, and Icecrown, where you had to do like 140 quests, most of them in a linear chain. *shudder*

4. Iron Chef/Hail to the Chef

I really can't choose which was harder, because as you can see I got them at the same exact time. I had been working on Iron Chef for some time by hunting the AH for every cooking recipe I didn't have, and even camping out at low-level vendors for the rare ones I missed.

I was getting really close to the 200 mark, so I even had my hubby use his alliance alt to mail me some unique alliance-only ones that can't be bought from Horde vendors.

At the same time I noticed I was only missing one recipe from the Northrend gourmet achievement (which in turn was the one achievement missing from the Hail to the Chef achievement) - the Haunted Herring recipe. After much trash farming in Naxx, I finally came across it only to find that I couldn't even pick it up. Thinking it was a bug, I ticketed the GM, who kindly told me that in fact I already had the recipe, but to earn the achievement one must actually cook the damn thing. Imagine my embarrassment!

Anyways, I cooked the damn herring and BAM I had my chef achievement & title. A few minutes later I camped a vendor in Desolace and BAM I had my Iron Chef achievement!

Not really difficult, but man, was that time consuming.

3. What a Long, Strange Trip it's been

This one is probably a big one for lots of folks. It takes a year to finish, no less. You basically have to get every achievement from every holiday quest.

No biggie, most of the holiday ones are not hard, just really time-consuming and requires you to do all the seasonal dailies. Some of them have you sneak into ally cities or whatever, but with flying mounts these days it's not hard. Heck, even without flying mounts it's perfectly possible to get into ally cities by persistent corpse runs.

What everyone QQs about is the children's week achievements, "School of Hard Knocks" which requires you to complete several BG objectives with your orphan pet out. I've noticed that most of the hardcore achievement junkies are PVE'ers, and therefore the outrage from both the PVE and PVP community at this achievement requirement is significant each year.

PVP crowd: We're sick of having the PVE scrubs mess up our BGs without actually trying to win games! Nerf the achievement!

PVE crowd: These objectives are too hard! I'm not skilled enough to cap a flag/defend a base/cap a tower etc etc. Nerf the achievement!

I also thought these would be uber tough, but once I tried to do it...I had them done in about 10 BGs, no more. Sure, being a rogue helps, but I found that with persistence, basic knowledge of BG objectives, and a little luck, it really isn't that hard. So enough QQ!

2. Menagerie

I'm actually still working towards the 150 pets achievement. This alone was no easy feat. Some of the pets were only obtained through endless farming low-level instances (I cringe at the thought of going back into Magister's terrace). Some of them were obtained through grinding months of dailies (I will never do an argent tournament quest again). Some of them were through other achievements (the hours I spent camping dalaran for book spawns...). Some of them were from quests, some were random drops, and towards the end I was so desperate to get 125 I started buying whatever I didn't have from the AH. I even have a few blizz store pets!

I'm still missing 19 pets...I know where they are, I'm just not quite desperate enough to grind for these just yet. Nor do I want to spend 50,000 on a pet. I still need a few more from the new Darkmoon Faire, and I'm still working to get Pebble from Deepholm. And once our caster gets her legendary I should have another to add to the list.

1. Insane in the Membrane

Well, obviously this was going to be number 1. By far the worst, most terrible, most carpal tunnel-inducing achievement yet.

Basically, you have to get exalted with:
Darkmoon Faire (before we had all these freaking daily quests available)
Shendra'lar (doesn't even exist anymore)
All the goblin factions
Booty Bay
Bloodsail Buccaneers

All at the same time too - they nerfed it in cata so you don't have to do the bloodsails and booty bay at the same time. And they took out Shendra'lar, which are the two toughest things in the whole damn achievement.

Because of the painful memories, I won't go into sordid details about the aggravating hours I spent on this. I think it took me a little over 6 months of almost constant chipping away whenever I had free time to play. Oh, the stacks upon stacks of herbs I had to mill for inks to make Darkmoon cards. Oh, the Scholomance and Stratholme runs I did to collect quest items (curse you pristine black diamonds!). Oh the hours I spent running all over EPL to collect bloods. Oh the hours I spent killing booty bay guards, the hours spent pickpocketing junkboxes, the hours I spent scouring the AH for mats. And oh, the hours upon hours I spent running Dire Maul over and over and over to save that damn goblin.

Well, now I feel sad about so much of my life spent earning pixel points.

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