I've been getting a lot of comments and feedback from players recently over troublesome elder placement during the Lunar Festival (the one next to the Razor Hill flightmaster seems to be a particular issue -- more on this in a future article), and it spurred me to start thinking about problematic holiday achievements as a whole. Thing is, Blizzard's really put a lot of effort into its holidays over the past few years, and most of them are much less time-consuming and frustrating then they used to be.
So how many really troublesome holiday achievements are there these days, anyhow? Most of them didn't figure prominently in our evil achievements series (with one sterling exception), but I'll grant that not all of them are sunshine and roses.
But then of course, there's that one. Yes, that one -- the achievement shat into existence by Satan himself onto a bed of Ed Hardy clothing with bad Japanese pop music playing in the background. You know the one I'm talking about.
Honestly? The more I thought about it, the more I had to admit that just about every WoW holiday has seen marked improvement in the four years that I've been writing here at WoW Insider. I don't think we've got a lot to complain about. Most of the "difficult" achievements below owe their status to an element of RNG or almost-guaranteed untimely death accompanying them.
Except for that one.
The Lunar Festival's problems (to the extent that it has them) are more immediate for what I imagine are obvious reasons, but there's really no achievement here that's an insurmountable obstacle.
Having said that, running around to find all the elders is definitely not everyone's cup of tea. Fox recently described the Lunar Festival as a never-ending Fed Ex quest, and the time investment required to finish it will presumably keep ratcheting up as the game adds more continents and zones through expansions. For my part, I always found it somewhat relaxing ... but then again, I also did it when just the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor were required.
My pick Elders of the Alliance and Elders of the Horde are the most troublesome, although I admit I'm biased. Yes, this is my bias, right up here as we start this article -- I do not like dying in order to get an achievement done, and there's a very high risk of death running into enemy cities. While enemy city infiltration has gotten much easier with flying mounts, I don't envy the poor Alliance bastards trying to reach the Orgrimmar Elder without one.
Love is in the Air
Be Mine! was the classic choice here, although it got much better after Blizzard tinkered with the drop rate after a huge rash of complaints. Otherwise, Love is in the Air is definitely a much-improved holiday overall, although I still heard from forlorn players who just never got the candies that they needed for the achievement, even post-fix.
My pick Fistful of Love is the obvious choice, although most of the class combinations here are quite common. The worst is probably trying to find a troll rogue, as all those of you who went nuts looking for one during Pilgrim's Bounty can already attest. It does seem like a cruel joke to make players look for the same underplayed race/class combination twice.
This was a tough holiday when its retooled version debuted in 2009, mostly because every player and his brother was suddenly camping every egg spawn. I wound up having a bored few hours myself sitting on the northeastern steps of the class trainer tent in Bloodhoof Village waiting for the same spawn to keep reappearing. These days, it's relatively easy (if admittedly a bit tedious) to get all the eggs you need.
My pick Shake Your Bunny Maker is really the only one here with the potential to drive a player batty, although it's definitely not as easy to find dwarf, orc, and tauren women. That, and if you really think about it, the achievement's kind of on the icky side in the first place.
Like this is even a contest? School of Hard Knocks. This is actually one of five holiday achievements that made our Top 25 list, and it clocked in at a very healthy #2. School of Hard Knocks is one of the very few things in this game with the ability to drive me into a towering rage. I cannot stand the design of this achievement. I hate that it gives complete asshats a means of griefing even the players from their own faction. And I really hate that doing it successfully means slipping past people who are actually trying to play to the demands of the Battleground. The best thing that can be said about School of Hard Knocks is that at least it makes you feel like you actually earned that damn proto-drake after all that you went through to get it.
This was literally the only achievement I had missing in the first year after the Wrath content patch hit. After being made completely miserable in a series of unproductive Battlegrounds with every player trying to do it and people sniping at each other when not griefing outright, I finally had enough, dropped out, and waited a year to try again. Judging from the hatred this achievement attracts, I wasn't the only one.
My pick Towering. Rage.
Midsummer Fire Festival
All things considered, the Midsummer Fire Festival is probably the least-changed holiday overall and also probably bears the most resemblance to the current Lunar Festival (i.e., running around the world getting items from specific locations, etc.). If you don't like running around to all the elders for the Lunar Festival, it won't suddenly get better during the Fire Festival.
My pick King of the Fire Festival is the obvious choice. However, Burning Hot Pole Dance -- now that you can't return Fire Festival clothing for a refund -- has attracted a lot of complaints, as it eats up so many Burning Blossoms that players might otherwise have used for novelty items and a pet.
Brew of the Year would have been the pick here if Blizzard hadn't removed it from the meta, but it's no longer a concern.
My pick Hmm. Nothing really comes to mind. Brewfest is probably WoW's most trouble-free holiday.
Now that A Mask for All Occasions has been removed from the meta -- and made significantly easier this year anyway, as they're all buyable -- I'm scratching my head again. This is another Travel All Over the World holiday guaranteed to annoy players who don't like the Lunar Festival or Midsummer Fire Festival, but I really liked the 2011 version of Hallow's End, with new quests and a more engaging way to do Rotten Hallow.
My pick The only bad thing about the new version of Hallow's End is that there aren't more pets like the Feline Familiar and the Creepy Crate. Boxes of concentrated evil that follow you around and snack on nearby critters are high on my list of potential fighters for the pet battling system in Mists.
While not part of the year-long meta What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been, Pilgrim's Bounty is definitely one of the best additions to the holiday stable. A cheap and easy way to level cooking on multiple alts? Yes, please.
My pick Eh. Pilgrim's Peril comes closest, but it's one of the least invasive infiltration achievements. No real complaints here. You can make a case for the Turkinator in the first year that the holiday went live (and it's definitely a lot easier for some classes than others), but eh.
I've always liked Winter Veil, but then again, who doesn't love presents? The modern incarnation of the Greench during the 2011 holiday also turned out to be pretty cool.
My pick Probably BB King and A-Caroling We Will Go if you count all achievements, but you don't actually have to do them for the meta. Of the required ones, With a Little Helper from My Friends is the standout, particularly if you're a feral druid. Either you have to respec in order to get the achievement done, or you'll run around Battlegrounds or Tol Barad ineffectually whacking at people with your melee weapon and heartily wishing that Blizzard could reverse its policy on costumes in forms.
Working on achievements? The Overachiever is here to help! Count on us for advice on Azeroth's holidays and special events, including new achievements, how to get 310% flight speed with achievement mounts, and Cataclysm reputation factions and achievements.