Sunday, April 29, 2012

The School of Hard Knocks

It is that time again.  Once more we get to hear about people attempting to do the most horribly designed achievement in the game. Once again we get to hear about testosterone pumping men putting holes in the walls and punching their monitor screens.  Once again we get to hear about anyone not prone to violence breaking down in tears failure after failure.

I've done it, the second year it was out, only eye of the storm had eluded me that first time , but I still get ready to help my guild mates in their efforts to get it without pulling out their hair.

For me, this children's week means something else.  I finally get veteran nanny.  I got my first pet in 2009, second and 2010 and for some reason the quest bugged on me in 2011 and would not let me do it, so as blizzard's customer service usually does they basically told me to suck it.  So now, the forth year, I am going to be getting my third pet for the achievement.  I am glad this one was not part of the meta.  But back to hard knocks.

I am still wondering why blizzard has not removed this from the meta or at least updated it to make it less stressful on players.  This is one of the few achievements that have people on both sides of the fence moaning about how horrible it is.  It is not just the achievement hunters that don't PvP complaining, it is everyone.

For those that do not know the School of Hard Knocks is an achievement that requires people to do 4 PvP related things with their orphan out.  Easy enough right?  Well, not exactly.

Assault a Tower in Alterac Valley
This one is usually easy enough.  In my experience doing this on my main and helping others each year it seems that more often then not there is usually one tower the achievement hunters for both sides go to and trade it back and forth.  It might take some time to find a group willing to do that or find the right tower they are at.  But when it comes to stress level this one is maybe a 4/10 on the maximum stress tolerance scale. 

Also, one flag changing sides will not effect the PvP aspect of the battle way to much, so PvPers that are there to PvP can still go about doing their objectives to some extent.  As far as it goes, this one is the least intrusive to game play out of all of them even if it is to some extent.

Assault a Flag in Arathi Basin
This one sounds easy enough but is the one where it seems people start to work against each other.  Isn't the idea of PvP to work together?  I've seen people running to make the attack on a flag and see other people behind them and stop.  The reason is they want the others to get their first, so they are in battle, so they can sneak in and make the assault.  They are, for lack of a better explanation, setting up their own team mates to be ambushed so they can get their objective done.  Not exactly what I call team play here. 

On the rare, and I do mean rare occasion you can also get a group like I mentioned in Alterac Valley that will exchange assaults back and forth.  It just does not happen as often here but it does happen, I've seen it.  On the stress scale this one can be annoying but it is again, not completely annoying so it only scales in at 5/10.  This one however does have a much larger impact on the people that are actually there to PvP, thus raising the stress level of people not even doing the achievements at the same time.

Return a Flag in Warsong Gulch
This one, in theory, makes a lot more sense and does actually work toward the objective of the battleground.  Whereas in Alterac Valley and Arathi Baisn you usually want some sort of team effort to capture the tower or flag in Warsong gulch it doesn't make a difference who returns the flag.  If the flag is dropped, anyone can return it and that is the objective really.  You might want a specific person in the others to do the capping, but here, who cares, a returned flag is a returned flag right?  But now that is where the problem comes in. 

Everyone is too busy trying to go after a flag carrier so no one is protecting the base, no one is running their flag.  Basically this one comes down to whichever team has the most people trying for the achievement is going to lose.  I've seen people let the other team grab the flag just so they can get it back from them.  That is not how you are supposed to play this battleground. 

To make things more stressful, for some with slow connections or bad reactions, is that the flag is returned in a matter of lightning speed.  So you have to be quick about it.  This one could very well reach 7/10 on the stress-o-meter, that is for sure and it does so for the PvPers as well.  Too many people after their own objectives that they are ignoring the real battle.

Capture a Flag in Eye of the Storm
This is what what nightmares are made of.  For PvEers going after achievements and for PvPers that want to battle this one is a 10/10 on the stress tolerance meter and this is the one I have heard stories about people breaking things over more than any other.

Lets take a break for a moment to explain how to win eye of the storm quickly and easily.  I promise it won't be long.  Capture and hold three points.  There, I said it would be quick and easy didn't I?  Seriously, if you have never PvPed that is how you win this one.  Even if the other team runs the flag back and forth as much as they can, if you control three places from the start they can not win.

So back to the achievement.  This is why this puts PvPers into stress mode maximum.  Everyone is after the flag, this is not exactly how knowledgeable people win this fight.  For PvEer they then run into another little problem.  They get the flag and have no where to place it because everyone was too busy trying to get to the flag they do not have any bases.  Ahhh, the hair pulling starts, lets try not to go bald before you finish this one out. 

There is also the added problem that this one actually inspires people to grief.  Lets say you are a class that is not really a flag capture and run type so you decide to go in with a friend that is say a warrior or something so they can grab it for you and pass it to you so you can place it in the base. When they put it down, someone else, 99 out of 100 times, will grab it because, you know, they want the achievement too.  If you are not quick, even with help this could tend to be a problem getting.

This one achievement is amazingly hard to do even with a group sometimes if you are not already a PvPer with PvP gear and a class that is good at flag capture and run.  Sorry everyone, but if you get hung up on any this year I am willing to bet this will be the one.

I am surprised that blizzard has done nothing to change this achievement yet when looking at the forums each year and seeing the sheer number of people that hate it.

PvEer's hate that they are forced to do PvP to begin with, but it is not like some of the other PvP ones that are bearable like kill x amount as a gnome or in gnerd rage or something.  Those are easier.  Those will happen through perseverance.  It might take a while, but it will get done either way.

PvPer's hate it because there are these people running around ruining their battlegrounds for a week.  Not playing the game as intended and making their ability to have some fun a little less fun.

Then there are those few, the chosen few, that love this holiday achievement.  It is free honor week in the battlegrounds for those that are willing to deal with not actually doing the objectives correctly.  Anyone with a orphan out is most likely a free kill.  They most likely have no PvP gear, no PvP  experience and most likely do not know their way around.  They will usually just stand there any let themselves die as soon as they start getting attacked because they know they will not be able to beat a real PvPer.  For the vultures, as I call them, this is a beautiful time of year, all that fresh dead meat running around that you can pluck off.  Free honor here they come.

I can't really blame them.  They are there to kill people, you are there to play with an orphan.  But boy does the rage start to fly good on this one if you happen to run into a premade or partial premade that is there to PvP when the others are there for an achievement.

Don't get me wrong, I did it, I did it alone with the exception of eye of the storm which I had a few friends help so I made sure I had a tower and a flag, it can be done, but it surely is not a fun achievement for a non PvPer and it is not really fair to the PvPers to put this many people into their aspect of the game for an entire week.

Think of it from the raiders standpoint.  How would you feel if for a week 8 of the 10 people in your raid team would have no experience and no gear and you had no choice but to do the raid with them?  It would not be fun right?  Well, it is not fun for the PvPers either.

This achievement sucks all the way around from any aspect of game play and it has been complained about for years.  I wonder why they have never changed it?

If they just change it to "be in these battleground with your orphan when these things happen" and not make you do them yourself, then you can play the battleground, as intended, and not have to actively ruin it for everyone around you.

Perhaps next year they will make it right but for this year, good luck all.  You are going to need it.


  1. Ah, I loathed thee. I remember getting griefed by my own side by a DK who absolutely refused to let ANYONE ELSE get the flag -- and then never return it to any base. Ended up getting lucky finally in another EotS BG by running Ret for the speed boost and a quick hammer of justice to the orc's face who was trying to stop me.

  2. 4 Years now, I've still not managed to get WSG done, all the others were done 1st or 2nd try. Every time I try to WSG I zone into a flagroom full of campers.

    I think I was blessed by the gods of carebears with EotS, I had a friendly paly see me with the orphan out, whispered me telling me to stick with him, he would cover me on a flag run. and light bless that human paladin, he did a great job, flag cap done.

  3. This is one of the cases where you have to wonder how the hell Blizzard can ignore such an unanimously loathed AND easily fixable problem without doing anything about it.

  4. Holy crap, I didn't even realize you'd written this yesterday when I wrote mine today. Not trying to rip you off or anything, I swear.