This past week, I was tabbed out of the game writing an OverAchiever on Bloody Rare as a follow-up to our guide on Northern Exposure when something interesting started happening in the background. In the sliver of laptop screen dedicated to WoW, the chat channels exploded with warnings that the Alliance was attacking Orgrimmar. Given that the Midsummer Fire Festival is still going on with lots of players busy stealing enemy fires, this isn't particularly unusual. I shrugged and went back to work.
And yet, the warnings just kept coming. Curious, I tabbed back into the game to discover that a full 40-man Alliance raid was fighting its way to Garrosh Hellscream. Other players said that none of the other Horde leaders had been attacked, so I can only assume the raid was starting For the Alliance! with the toughest foe among them.
Now, Garrosh is by no stretch of the imagination anywhere near as popular as Thrall was, but lots of Horde players are still willing to defend him from attack because, well, he's got his moments. Orgrimmar's central district quickly became a lagfest of epic proportions as dozens of players who'd been gossiping in trade or loitering around the Auction House rushed to defend Garrosh. The Alliance raid was ultimately defeated, but they rallied and tried again -- unsuccessfully -- an hour later.
This was the first of three days that I saw the same Alliance raid desperately trying to kill Garrosh, and something started to niggle at me by day two. Namely, For the Alliance! and For the Horde! are among the very few achievements that are significantly tougher if you play one faction over the other.
Most achievements are reasonably if not entirely equal in difficulty, regardless of the faction you play. (We could and probably should devote a column to the exceptions, but today let's restrict ourselves to the ones that will give you a cool black bear.) However, I think you can make a case that For the Alliance! is substantially more difficult than its Horde counterpart due to the changes made to Orgrimmar during the Cataclysm content patch.
Consider for a moment what each faction has to do for For the Alliance! or For the Horde!:
- If you're Horde, you'll face off against Tyrande and Velen in what are likely to be completely empty cities. (Darnassus and the Exodar are really only the haunts of low-level players and the occasional bank alt.) Ironforge has more people, but it's still rare (at least on the servers on which I play) to find a lot of high-level players there, and mounting a successful defense means travel time. Stormwind is by far the most crowded city and Varian is no bowl of chuckles, but it's still possible for a Horde raid to fly into the city from the northeast and start an attempt before Alliance players arrive from the central business district. The long hallway leading to Varian is also a good place to bottleneck the defenders.
- If you're Alliance, your two "freebies" arrive in the form of Baine Bloodhoof and Lor'themar Theron in the largely empty Thunder Bluff and Silvermoon, respectively. Like Ironforge, Undercity is more likely to have at least a few level 85 characters, but any other defenders will have to wait for zeppelins and/or flights. As for Orgrimmar ...
However, the redesign of Orgrimmar also put Garrosh smack dab in the middle of the city between the central Auction House and bank, where huge numbers of Horde players are guaranteed to be sitting around at any given time. Even if you're trying a raid in the wee hours of the morning, that's still likely to be the most crowded area of the most crowded Horde city. Garrosh's throne room is also quite small, and the tiny halls on either side that lead to it don't seem to be very effective chokepoints, if the Alliance raids I saw are any indication. If you can get through them, every single attacking player in the throne room will be within easy range.
For this reason, I would rank Death to the Warchief! as the most consistently difficult among the achievements awarded for killing enemy faction leaders, perhaps too much so, and all because Orgrimmar's redesign has put Garrosh in a really unfortunate place for Alliance players to reach.
Having said all this, it's been a long, long time since I did these achievements, and I'm not sure if the Ironforge council is substantially harder than Magni used to be or if Baine's all that different from his dad. However, Malfurion -- newly reunited with the love of his life -- apparently does nothing as she's murdered in front of him, which I think ranks pretty high among the most unintentionally hilarious things in the game.
I'm curious. Has anyone out there done these achievements recently, and if so, what was your experience?
Enjoy working on achievements? The Overachiever is here to help! Count on us for advice on patch 4.3 achievements, our guide to Mountain O' Mounts, and a good, hard look at what's wrong with archaeology and how Blizzard could fix it.