Monday, December 1, 2008

Will An Achievement Break Winter's Veil?

Back in October, Blizzard had to drastically nerf Hallow's End because a crucial achievement depended on getting a pair of rather infrequent drops off of the Daily boss fight against the Headless Horseman. At the time, I wrote:
" cannot complete the full holiday achievement if you don't complete the Hallow's End achievement. By making this all-or-nothing, the Horseman literally removes not only the incentive for finishing Hallow's End (a title), but also the incentive for finishing the difficult portions of the other holidays as well; even if you finish all the other ones, the mount will remain beyond your reach."
This issue was not unique to Hallow's End. Warhammer had a similar problem on a much smaller scale with their Heavy Metal event, while the revised Brewfest mount achievement looms as a problem for next year.

So, what about the upcoming Winter's Veil event? Which of the Winter's Veil Achievements loom as potential problems for two weeks from now?

- Crashin' & Thrashin'
This is the most time-sensitive of the events on this year's Winter Veil. In general, the holiday does a reasonable amount to accommodate players, by running for more than two weeks. However, the presents under the tree can't be opened until Christmas, about a week before the end of the event.

A week is a reasonably fair window - any time limited event is going to miss SOME players - but that particular week is probably the one single week of the entire year that the most players are going to miss due to holiday travel. Fortunately, the actual achievement is easy enough that it should be doable as long as you have some time to log in - I'm sure the area around the presents will be an utter demolition derby of crashing cars.
Problem Potential: Low.

- With a Little Helper from My Friends
This achievement sounds simple enough - get 50 HK's while wearing a buff. The catch is that, unless the buff can be refreshed somehow, it will go away on death. Death happens to people who participate in PVP. Now this achievement as written isn't onerous - if you average 5 HK's per battle before dying and losing the buff, that's only 10 battlegrounds in a holiday that runs for over two weeks. If there's a gnome-making machine in Dalaran, Wintergrasp might be a viable option for chasing the achievement as well. The real issue is that the "honorable kill" is an idiotic measure of participation in PVP.

With forced battleground groups, everyone in the battleground gets credit for kills even if they're standing a discreet distance back, out of combat or in stealth. The holiday incentive will attract additional players whose sole objective, the achievement, will be achieved most quickly by NOT participating in the combat, exactly the kind of bad PVP behavior that incentives should try NOT to reward. To say that it could get ugly in battleground chat, which is a pretty impressive feat given the usual low quality of battleground chat, is an understatement.
Problem Potential: Well, the achievement is attainable, so I wouldn't expect it to change, even if the social consequences may be less than pleasant.

- 'Tis the Season

This one is the potential wild card. It sounds easy - wear an outfit, eat a fruitcake. The clothes are tailored, the boots are a product of leatherworking, and the hat... well, there's the potential catch. The hat is bind on pickup, and, last year, was a drop from any of six selected instance bosses (the lowest level of which was the level 67 boss of the Auchenai Crypts). I've never actually seen a hat drop, but the page makes it sound like it has, in the past, been a guaranteed drop off of the six instance bosses (and also a very rare world drop elsewhere).

If those are the rules, the only issues I'd expect are the usual ninja looting/scamming ones. Given how recently the expansion launched, I'd expect the selected bosses to skew heavily towards sub-80 instances. (Of course, with Heroic mode, that's less of an issue, since the folks who are already level 80 can go Heroic.) There's a huge difference between an event with a very low drop rate and a limited number of summons per day compared with an event that is guaranteed to drop for one in five players each run and is infinitely repeatable.
Problem Potential: Perhaps some general griping, but I would not expect serious problems unless the drop is harder to get than it has been in previous years.

Bottom Line?
I wish I'd taken a closer look at the Winter's Veil achievements during beta to see whether they had some more unreasonable ones and already weeded them out. Overall, though, The Winter's Veil achievement set SHOULD be doable within the time allowed. Perhaps Blizzard worked the worst of the kinks out of the system, though I guess we won't be sure until next October when people either can or cannot finish the meta achievement.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the hat was a 100% drop last year, but I can't say for sure. What I can say for sure is that I have the red one sitting in my bank. =D

I do want to try to get the Merrymaker title (and possibly, next October, the mount), but the roadblock looks like it will be cooking. I have never cooked anything. I may end up powerlevelling cooking, believe it or not - but I'm not sure I'll have time to do it before Winter Veil begins, what with racing to 80.


Dradis said...

If you haven't already got the beer of the month going from last Brewfest, won't the mount be impossible to have before October 2010, or did I misunderstand that part of the achievement?

Green Armadillo said...

@Fed: Heh, I hadn't thought of the cooking angle. The good news is that powerleveling cooking is easier than ever - you've got a bread recipe you can skill up on from the vendors til 40, and the combo of bear flanks and the Silithus snake thing is enough to get you most of the way to 325 (the requirement for the achievement). If it had been 425, well, I'm not sure if *I* would get there in time. ;)

@Dradis: You're correct, though technically it would be August 2010 if that's the only thing holding you up, since you would be able to snag the Sep brew during the event in 2009.

Dradis said...

That's what I thought. Sigh

Alcaras said...

Somehow I stumbled upon your blog... I like your writing style and incentive-based analysis!

You should consider (re)joining the Subcreation mage forums, where you posted for a while 3 years ago -- they're still going strong at



Anonymous said...

Check the ones for the easter holiday one. Then check the drop rates. That will be the killer one.

Green Armadillo said...

@ Anonymous: Fortunately, the easter achievements are NOT required for the holiday achievement Protodrake, though they will undoubtedly confound achievement point hoarders regardless.