[Binary Brew], like the other brews from the Brewfest Brew of the Month Club, has a 14 day duration. Knowing that the 3.0 patch was moderately likely to hit live realms on October 14th, 2008, I bought myself a brew late on the evening of September 30th. The patch did hit, as expected, and it was a very very rocky patch day. However, the servers came up for just long enough for me to drink a single binary brew, minutes before it expired.
My server, Hyjal-US, is on PST, which means that the servers coming up would have been too late had I been in any other time zone. As a result, if I don't cancel my account for more than a month between now and September, I will be probably one of very few people in the world eligible to obtain the much-maligned Brew of the Year achievement on August 1st.
I would still have needed to wait for Brewfest to finish the rest of the brewfest achievements and claim the proto-drake, but I suppose I would be able to link the date of the achievement on my armory page as something that most players won't be able to unlock for another month. That's all I'm going to get for my trouble, since the achievement in question has been removed from the requirements for the proto-drake.
Revising events in progress
I'm not sure that Blizzard designed the holiday achievements for what they have since turned into - a frantic scramble to complete some very short events, with all of the time that players have already invested in previous events on the line. The result has been an ongoing, year-long mess.
First, Hallow's End needed to be nerfed after players were not able to get the rare drops for Sinister Calling, which were low percentage items off of a boss that most characters will not get more than five shots at per day. Additionally, they launched the event including a mask achievement that they acknowledged was statistically ugly, and which they promised to remove in a subsequent patch.
Then we had the mess of a Valentine's event, which suffered from some of the same flaws as the Halloween masks from months earlier - perhaps it was more statistically feasible, but it was no less inconsiderate of players who have anything other than WoW they need to be doing with their time (especially in the context of the shorter holiday). Earlier in this PTR cycle, Blizzard reversed their repeated assurances that they were alright with the drop rate on the candy bags, and decided that the Be Mine achievement would require only 6 of the 8 candy hearts. This change would have been spared me pretty much my entire ordeal with that holiday - I had six hearts by the end of the first day, and now would have gotten the achievement by giving up. Instead, I spent the next three days logging as often as I could (I'd estimate 30 times) to loot more candy bags because Blizzard insisted that I would not get the achievement if I did not.
Looking ahead, they're completely redesigning the easter event, making it a week long, and adding it to the meta achievement. There's plenty of room for bugs and poorly thought out achievements here, since the patch is coming on a bit of a tight schedule. In addition, there could be achievement issues/bugs in the returning events. The Children's Week achievement currently requires that players be able to play on five consecutive days, which must, due to the length of the event, include May 3-5, and it's based on an achievement that has a long history of resetting itself due to bugs (which would kill a player's meta attempt if they happen during Children's week, due to the limited time). Brewfest still looms as a problem because they're leaving intact - for the moment - an achievement that requires a rare mount from the daily quest boss - yes, the very same mechanic that they already took out of the Halloween event.
Finally, to add insult to injury, Blizzard is not willing to confirm whether the reward mount is actually 310% speed, even though they are well aware that many players believe it is, and have made their choices to suffer though the events thus far based on that belief. The current game client treats the mount as a 310% speed mount, but there are rumblings that - after all of the nerfs - it would be far easier to obtain than the other 310% mounts in the game (which typically require a high arena PVP rating, or farming high end raid content). Though technically there is no promise on their part regarding the speed, changing the speed after players are already more than halfway through the achievement would be like having Arthas drop legendary shards of Frostmourne, only to reward players who collect enough shards with a mere epic item that is no better than what they might have obtained by other means.
How can you decide when the information changes?
Spinks has written that she doesn't get what drives "achievement junkies". As my wife puts it, you shouldn't be doing things in a game when they aren't fun. So why have I put my time into an event that has now forced me through an ordeal only to excuse people who didn't finish?
WoW and its like are, at their heart, relatively simple games. It's sufficiently easy to automate the basics of playing the game that people were able to make and sell botting programs (until Blizzard sued them into the ground), which wouldn't have been worth buying if they didn't work. The challenge, at least from my perspective, is finding a way to play smarter. Maybe, if I do these dozen things, I can gear my rogue alt with a full set of heirlooms and tackle content that is slightly tougher than I am, where the easy/boring approach would be to grind away at stuff that I can slaughter quickly and efficiently. These rewards cannot simply fall into my lap during the course of whatever I would be doing anyway - that reduces a game where I make reasoned choices about the best use for my time into a boring, thoughtless treadmill. The challenge is for the developers to come up with challenges that I am willing to tackle without having them actually ruin my day, just like the raid designers have to come up with raids that challenge players without simply slaughtering them automatically the moment they walk in.
All of which is why it is so problematic when Blizzard decides to change the rules midway through. The issue is not that the changes are bad - indeed, nothing Blizzard can do will go back and retroactively make the non-fun times I had better in hindsight, so they might as well focus on people they can still save from frustration. The issue is one of confidence. Maybe I shouldn't attempt this achievement, because Blizzard might remove it later - after all, they've reversed themselves several times in the past. Maybe I shouldn't attempt the entire rest of the holiday grind, in case Blizzard decides to nerf the reward. How can you make decisions if you can't trust the information that you're basing them on?