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Blood Pact: The real Lunar Festival

V'Ming Chew

Between Arenas, V'Ming spends his time as a lock laughing ominously in AV, tanking Olm with his own minions and pondering troll fashion from Zul'Aman. He's recently started to plumb the depths of SSC with his 0/21/40 build and bragging about 8k shadow bolts.

Today being the first day of the lunar new year (for the eastern hemisphere at least), I shall lay my shadow bolts down and talk about something close to my roots: the Lunar Festival. Hey, even evil warlocks come from somewhere, you know.

WoW's Lunar Festival is based pretty closely on the real life Lunar New Year that millions celebrate all around the world. It's a really nice gesture on Blizzard's part to move in-game festivities each year to match the real life celebrations, as Lunar New Year doesn't fall on the same day each year on the 'normal' or Gregorian calendar. In fact the 15-day festival is determined by the lunisolar calendar, and it begins on the first day with a new moon of the new lunar year. This is the third year we're having the Lunar Festival in WoW:

  • 2006 – The Lunar New Year was on Jan 29; WoW's Lunar Festival was held Jan 27 to Feb 14.
  • 2007 – The Lunar New Year was on Feb 18; WoW's Lunar Festival was held Feb 16 to Mar 8.
  • 2008 – The Lunar New Year is on Feb 7; WoW's Lunar Festival started yesterday and will continue till February 23rd.
What happens during WoW's Lunar Festival, besides Asian-style outfits, fireworks and funky red decor around towns?

The festival celebrates the old heroes of Azeroth, presumably ancestors of us modern Azerothians. From the capital cities, you'll be sent on a quest to locate and meet 50 of these heroes or Elders, who are scattered all over world.

The best way to travel is with a Mage (nothing like portals to zip all over the map) and lots of real life Lunar New Year munchies as you (re)visit various corners of Azeroth. To take the guesswork out of your journey, here's a list of the Elder's locations, and walkthroughs to boot!

While there isn't any special reward for collecting all 50 Coins of Ancestry from the Elders, other than a sense of achievement, the coins can be traded in for some nifty costumes, fireworks and dumplings. For each Elder you meet, you'll also get a Lucky Red Envelope about six hours later in your mail. That's a lot of fun goodies to get in game during this two-week period. For raiders among us, Festival Dumplings, with a 4% health and mana regen, is one of the best foods in game.

Now this visiting of Elders business ties in neatly with the real life Lunar New Year tradition of getting together with family and friends. Children and unmarried adults can also expect to get red envelopes from their parents and elders, and guess what, the red packets almost always contain money! (Now you know why kids love this festival: holiday, goodies AND money! It's like Christmas all over again!)

Unlike WoW, real life red envelopes are not mailed; you usually get them immediately after being really nice to your parents and elders. Extra points (and cash) if you've been a good girl or boy all year round! Thankfully, the red envelopes are usually too small to stuff a lump of coal into.

One of the stories behind Lunar New Year is that of a large, dog-like beast that appears around this time every year to prey on humans and livestock. Sound familiar? Yes, Omen is that beast (not to be confused with the threatmeter). In the Chinese version of WoW, Omen is known as "Nian", which is the actual name of the beast in Chinese mythology. The Nian (a homonym of "year" in Mandarin) beast is believed to be sensitive to the color red and loud noises, which explains the festival's association with everything red, and firecrackers.

Unfortunately, Omen or Nian isn't such a wussy in the game and takes a raid to bring down. Travel to the southeastern of Lake Elune'ara (about 62,63) in Moonglade, with a handful of friends and lots of cluster rockets to initiate the summoning of the beast. Minions of Omen or demon wolves on steroids will spawn; kill them and/or use Elune's Candle on them, and their head (two heads in fact) honcho will show up eventually. Unlike other WoW raid encounters, this fight isn't restricted to level 60s or 70s. However, if you decide to participate with a lower level toon, be prepared to run back from the nearby graveyard a lot, especially when Omen uses his deadly Starfall AoE attack.

Since this is a Warlock column, I'd like to highlight that a level 70 Warlock with good gear could probably solo Omen, according to WoWWiki. Granted it'll take you about 30 minutes of running around a large tree with the doggie all dotted up, but nobody said that OP-ness was easy. I'd like to try out this stunt myself although an Affliction build would probably survive better.

In the meantime, I'm going to collect both the tailoring patterns from the festival. I was probably having too much fun with the outfits and fireworks in previous years to pick them up. My personal favorite is the purple outfit on a female toon (see above) - vavavoom!

Blizzard certainly did a nice job with the Lunar Festival, adding some holiday cheer to the game and capturing the nuances and some lore of the real world festival. It's a pity that it hasn't been updated since 2006, as far as I know and from the reports of guildies. Obviously the Lunar Festival isn't the "old holiday" that has received the Hallow's End style makeover. Can we expect something different out of Valentine's Day next week? We shall see!

Note: Dear Blood Pact readers, I apologize for this week's column not having very much to do directly with warlocks. However, being the evil masterminds that we are, I thought a little knowledge and cultural background of in-game events couldn't hurt. This is the year of the Rat after all, and rats are supposedly inquisitive and enterprising - perfect Warlock traits, by the way - and not blindly chasing yellow exclamation marks made of cheese, or not. And thank you Balasan, for the new year greetings! :)

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