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The 25 most evil achievements finale, part 2

Allison Robert

2. School of Hard Knocks

The hatred for this achievement is well-known and, in my opinion, well-deserved.

I try to take a measured approach to everything on this blog. Even if I don't agree with Blizzard, I'll make the effort to understand how and why they arrived at a decision. Sometimes I've gotten it right, and sometimes (perhaps more often) I haven't. Any reasonable player will admit that their love of a character is ultimately a very small part of a very big game, and developers have the unenviable task of reconciling player desires with the necessary limitations imposed by game balance. Whenever I look at the forums, I wonder if people like Nethaera and Ancilorn go to work every day expecting themselves to be the sole voice of unhappy sanity in a thread, and I fully expect Ghostcrawler to snap before Cataclysm, disappear and turn up six months later adopted into a pod of Monterey Bay seals.

So I don't say this insultingly, but boy, do I mean it: there's no defensible reason for this achievement to exist.


It makes PvE players miserable. It makes PvP players miserable. It's a perverse incentive against teamwork, it turns battlegrounds into a mess for the length of Children's Week and it's the worst possible way to encourage any tentative or frightened player to try PvP. Anyone trying to do it might as well have a giant bull's-eye painted on them, for all the griefing and bullying it tends to attract, and I have a very serious problem with players being forced into such a vulnerable position in pursuit of What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been. For many players, that's the only way they're ever going to get a 310% mount without having to shell out for it at 85, and having to wade into an ocean of malicious "teammates" and opportunistic enemies to get it frankly sucks.

I am at a loss to understand how this achievement was supposed to be fun, or what it was intended to accomplish other than being an amazingly cruel barrier to completion of the year-long meta. Over the past week, I've seen the following:
  • Paladins casting Hand of Protection on their own teammates to force them into dropping a flag.
  • Arena gods grabbing the EotS flag, parking themselves in a distant corner of the battlefield and enjoying the eruption of pleading in /bg chat.
  • Healers refusing to heal their teammates in the hopes that they'd die and the healer could then cap a tower or node.
  • Rogues Sapping players at the last moment before they could cap or defend a node (orphans clearly visible at the sides of the players in question) and doing it over and over and over ...
  • Players hanging back while others rushed into AV towers to cap, then capping while the others were being damaged by the archers and unable to get a full cast off.
  • ICC-geared DPS two- or three-shotting enemy players in blues who were /pointing at their orphans and emoting /beg.
Unlike inter-faction griefing, there's no "PvP solution" to your own teammates' screwing you over, and the achievement does nothing to encourage PvP-phobic players to get more experience. As Cynwise observed in the article linked above, the battlegrounds during Children's Week are full of people who do not want to be there, and there's no shortage of players on either side feasting on their misery.

Enough already. Remove School of Hard Knocks from the meta, or remove it from the game entirely.

1. Insane in the Membrane

This is it.

Insane in the Membrane is the granddaddy, prime mover, and ne plus ultra of all truly evil achievements.

These are the worst, most soul-destroying reputation grinds in the game, and the developers even admitted it. They're all factions that Blizzard never really intended anyone to grind in the first place, and then -- post-drunken board meeting, I can only assume -- they decided to add a Feat of Strength to it for anyone crazy enough to do it. It comes with the additional evil touch of Steamwheedle and Bloodsail rep being zero-sum; anybody who manages the long slog to Honored with the pirates is then obliged to work from the bottom of the Hated barrel with the goblins, and vice versa. Each and every single one of these grinds is painful, expensive, annoying, time-consuming and guaranteed to have you in shivering in the corner of a mental institution within the space of a few days:
  • Everlook, Ratchet, Gadgetzan and Booty Bay Once you've exhausted their quest offerings, you've got two choices and neither is attractive: grind low-level mobs for days on end, or grind Dire Maul north for an equally long time hoping you get a dropped key each run to free Knot Thimblejack.
  • Darkmoon Faire You'll run out of relatively easy turn-ins for the Faire pretty quickly, and after that? Better hope you (or your server's scribes) feel up to the task of providing more than a hundred Darkmoon decks. Oh, and the Darkmoon Faire isn't actually available most of the time, either. If you can't manage to get your hands on enough decks while they're around for the first part of every month, congratulations! You get to wait another month!
  • Shendralar This reclusive sect of the Highborne has had, until recently, no desire to make contact with the outside world, and it shows. You get one non-repeatable class quest and one dungeon quest, and that's it. Afterwards, it's nothing but painful, expensive libram turn-ins and -- this gets better -- you can't hold more than one of the same libram simultaneously. Did one Libram of Focus drop for you? You can't pick up another one until you've somehow dumped the first. Get the librams and turn-in items, run to Dire Maul, hand them in, run to the nearest mailbox if you're not an engineer (bonus points if you're Alliance and have to wait for the ferry to Feathermoon Stronghold each time!), get more librams and items off an alt, run back to Dire Maul, lather, rinse, repeat and go completely off your nut.
  • Ravenholdt There's no way to increase Ravenholdt reputation unless you can get a steady supply of lockboxes. How do you get lockboxes, you ask? Pickpocketing. Hey, wait -- aren't rogues the only class that can pickpocket? Bingo. Legions of players have leveled a rogue to do nothing other than farm lockboxes for their mains, which means the added frustration of leveling an extra character on top of the long and boring slog through high 50s mobs for the boxes themselves.
  • Bloodsail Buccaneers I'm not sure this one requires elaboration. Farming Bloodsail reputation requires tanking your rep with the Steamwheedle goblins, who -- as you may have noticed -- run an awful lot of towns and flight paths around the world. In return for you inability to travel to any goblin town without being attacked on sight, the pirates will give you ... a costume? Seriously? SERIOUSLY? That's it? What the hell made that horrible grind worth it? Nothing, that's what. That's why they call you The Insane.

Working on achievements? The Overachiever is here to help! We've covered everything from Glory of the Hero and Insane in the Membrane to Master of Alterac Valley and Lil' Game Hunter, and you can count on us to guide you through holidays and Azeroth's special events.

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