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The OverAchiever: The 25 most entertaining achievements #5-3

Allison Robert

Every so often, I get tired of the self-seriousness that infests some of (OK, most of) the other work I do here and get the urge to write something purely for fun. After our series on evil achievements and the relentless misery of School of Hard Knocks, I'd like to spend some time on achievements that are nothing but an absolute joy from beginning to end.

Today we're going to get close to finishing our series on World of Warcraft's 25 most entertaining achievements. This was originally supposed to be #5 through #1, but ... well, I think the last five achievements are all complete knockouts, so I devoted a bit more time to each. This is the full series, if you're catching up:

5. The Coin Master

There are a lot of truly brilliant touches in this game, and I've long held the opinion that the coins in the Dalaran fountain constitute some of Blizzard's best and most creative work. Their existence is equally subtle; the only clue that they're there at all is tucked away in three fairly high-level fishing achievements. One has the eerie sense that, lore-wise, the population might have walked past the fountain in Dalaran for years without ever realizing that (evincing the sort of self-aware magic that characterizes the Harry Potter universe) it had quietly preserved the wishes of dozens of major and minor players on the world scene.

Some of the coins are impish pokes at the lore (really, how and why would Archimonde have bothered tossing a coin in?). Some of them are obscure allusions to minor characters you don't even see in the game. Some are funny, some are sad, and some will leave you wondering what was going through the mind of the wisher. I maintain that Jaina Proudmoore's coin is the most thought-provoking, because that coin has one of several very different meanings depending on when the wish was made. And, true to my vow while playing the Wrath beta all the way back in October 2008, I carried her coin in my packs as my guild destroyed Icecrown Citadel and Arthas fell.

If you're one of the hard-hearted players out there for whom no amount of lore can convince you to do an achievement sans reward, you'll get a cool little Titanium Seal of Dalaran for your trouble, but that's not the real attraction here. It's a magic fountain in a distant corner of the world and it remembers peoples' wishes. How cool is that?

Go fish.

I dearly hope whoever cooked this up at Blizzard is busy convincing the developers to put more "pointless" stuff like this into the world.

4. Observed

The only thing that really bothered me about the Algalon encounter was how underrated it was as a lore moment. When Ulduar was progression content, players were too busy ratchet-jawing about dual-wield bosses versus block tanks/non-block tanks, the annoyance of the hour lockout, and the difficulty of hurdling Firefighter to give a moment's thought to the importance of what Algalon says to you immediately after the encounter:

I have seen worlds bathed in the Makers' flames, their denizens fading without so much as a whimper. Entire planetary systems born and raised in the time that it takes for your mortal hearts to beat once. Yet, all throughout, my own heart ... devoid of emotion. Of empathy. I ... have felt ... NOTHING. A million, million lives wasted. Had they all held within them your tenacity? Had they all loved life as you do?

Perhaps it is your imperfection that grants you free will. That allows you to persevere against cosmically calculated odds. You prevailed where the Titans' own perfect creations have failed.

I've rearranged the reply code. Your planet will be spared. I cannot be certain of my own calculations anymore.
Stop and think for a moment about what's implied and outright stated here. This is almost certainly the first time that this guy's been beaten, or even seriously challenged, by mortal creatures. He's not even annoyed with you when you show up to try convincing him that, for all Azeroth's problems, you don't want to die along with everything else if the planet is "re-originated." To Algalon, you are a pointless little being with no understanding or appreciation of the wisdom behind the Titans' plans, and he's going to swat you aside like the trillions of other sentient beings he's killed. He doesn't like you. He also doesn't hate you. He doesn't think you're important enough to merit feelings of any kind. In the moments before the fight starts, this much is clear; you've failed to convince him how hard you're willing to fight for your life, and he's failed to convince you just how inconsequential your life really is.

Algalon loses. An indifferent Observer experiences the first pangs of a conscience, and we're left with an anvil-sized hint that the Titans aren't a fundamentally benign presence in the universe. Whatever their virtues, and regardless of the good they obviously wish to accomplish, they're in the world-building and life-giving business for their own ends, not for the sake of the creatures they've created.


3. Looking for Multitudes

With the benefit of hindsight, it seems faintly ridiculous that Blizzard might ever have been worried about the dungeon finder's reception with players. Everyone was expecting the most popular feature of patch 3.3 to be the Icecrown Citadel raid, but let's face it -- we're going to be using (and abusing) the dungeon finder for years to come. Weighed against the entirety of WoW's existence, it hasn't even been in the game all that long, but it's revolutionized how players get groups and rewarded them for being more social without punishing anyone who already has a few friends in tow. None of your buddies online and you want to find a group without sitting in trade chat for an hour begging? Hop in. Friends online and you feel like instancing? Hop in. Bored? Go instance. Poor? They'll throw in some gold for the group and transport you to the dungeon.

I used to be the stereotypical tank tasked with finding or replacing group members, and half my in-game life was spent tabbed out of the game playing solitaire while my main was parked at a summoning stone waiting for people to haul their butts out to the instance. And, valid complaints aside, most of the players you meet through the dungeon finder are pretty cool folks. In the event that you run into a few stinkers, who cares? Shuffle them in the direction of your /ignore list and you'll never see them again! From my perspective, the dungeon finder is everything that's fun about 5-mans with no end of opportunity to minimize or eliminate the bad parts.

Grouping with random players you might never have met otherwise is the cornerstone of the MMO experience. Blizzard made it easy, convenient, fun -- and hell, they even give you a cute little doggie for doing it.

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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