Of Blizzard, and WoW and Really Bad Eggs

If there is one thing I’ve noticed while going through the new Cataclysm 1 to 60 “experience” (because that’s the only marketing buzz word I can dig out of my brain that can accurately match the amazingly well done revision to the game in my opinion) is that someone at Blizzard – or all of Blizzard – really, REALLY likes pirates.  People like to bicker constantly over who Blizzard favors more: Horde or the Alliance – but really the question should be focused on the age-old battle of pirates and ninjas.  The fact that there are no less than 3 zones that feature pirates heavily, and several subzones that have pirate related quest chains, and as far as I’ve seen there are NO ninja related storylines thus far indicates a huge imbalance on the Pirate/Ninja front.  From a company that likes to tote their supposed focus on “balance,” this is – dare I say it?  A slap in the face!

I will admit, even as a staunch ninja supporter, I am willingly to indulge in a bit of piratey fun, but come on Blizz!  Would it kill you to put a bit more ninja in the World of Warcraft?  The best we get is a Halloween disguise, the Deviate Delight disguise and a frickin’ sword.  That’s it.  Need I remind the jury that ninja movies out number pirate movies by a fair amount?  It’s not like there’s a lack of stuff to draw from.  Especially when you essentially have a NINJA CLASS in the form of the subtlety and assassin rogues.  But no, instead we get tons of trendy pirate movie references on top of pirate quest chains, pirate cities and pirate zones!

That’s right, Cataclysm added a bunch of references to movies.  Probably the most blatant being following around Harrison Jones around and doing his grunt work for entire zone (I preferred helping the cat people). But I’m shocked at how many Pirates of the Caribbean references have been snuck into the game.  Most of them fairly easy to miss.  Today I’m only going to talk about the big three I found, but if you’ve spotted more feel free to put them in the comments section, I’m kind of curious to how many I may have overlooked.

The Obvious

The most obvious allusion the Pirates of the Caribbean movies comes from the Kelp’thar Forest of Vashj’ir.  Poor Budd Nedreck, the guy can’t catch a break in his money-making schemes.  He wants you to help reclaim some new “shinies” (which every time he says that word I’m reminded of a particular wild child in the Veldt) but sadly, the shinies make anyone who touches them turn into a skeleton.  Sounds familiar.  The best pay off for the quest is what you bring him back to “cure” the curse.  It’s a hammer. Just a hammer to break the shiny.  That has nothing to do with Pirates of the Caribbean, but I must admit, I was in stitches laughing at that.

The Off the Beaten Path

Now these references become a bit more interesting.  This one can be somewhat easy to miss if you just rush by and miss some of the emotes that would draw your attention to it, especially since there’s no quest associated with it, although there is one near it.  Just south of Ratchet, along the coast line there is an area where the Northwatch guard has taken control of the former pirate dock.  The Horde will receive a couple of quests here including one that sends you to speak with Baron Longshore, who is comfortably sitting in a locked cage.  However, sitting near the Baron is another group of Southsea Freebooters that will eventually speak to a nearby dog named Charlie. If you look closely, you’ll see that Charlie is holding what appears to be a key in his mouth.

Anyone who is familiar with either the Pirates of the Caribbean movies or ride will instantly recognize this famous scene of pirates attempting to lure a dog with keys with a bone, but it’s easy to miss if you don’t catch one of the occasional pirate emotes or saying something to try to lure Charlie in.  However, I question the logic of leaving the key with this dog.  This isn’t a jail. It’s an open area on the coast of a highly contested area between the Horde and the Alliance, not to mention the goblins of Ratchet and the Southsea Freebooters.

Having a random animal carry your key seems like a terrible idea.  Even if you train it well enough to not run off into the Barrens sunset, you’ve stuck the poor animal in an area where there’s massive amounts of bloodshed in a zone known for its copious number of hunting quests.  Honestly, it’s not like it would hurt to put the keys on a peg on the wall.  It would actually be better.  1) It would sit further away from the cage.  2) IT WON’T RUN AWAY AT THE FIRST WHIFF OF STEAK.

The One and Only Chance

No, I don't want to know what pirates do with sheep on their ships.

This last one is named as such because there’s only a small opening to see this pirate reference before its gone forever.  Namely because it only shows up during a phased event during the Booty Bay quest line to infiltrate the Bloodsail Buccaneers (I am just now noticing how fond pirates seem to be of alliteration). At the end of the chain, the Bloodsail will wage an all out attack on Booty Bay in trying to claim the town for their own once and for all, during this time the Bloodsail and their allies will be running amok all along the streets.

However, a trio of musical worgen will be sitting on the roof of the first large building in Booty Bay (The one they sell parrots and weapons in.  Cause you know, those go well together.)  These worgen will sit on the roof and sing their own wolfy rendition of ‘A Pirate’s Life for Me.’  It’s actually pretty funny and got me to sit there and listen as the pirates ransack the city.  Perhaps that was their plan all along.  A musical distraction so they can plunder freely…

You know when I say that out loud it seems rather silly.  But how I can possibly argue against it when it worked!  I sat through the entire thing!  I waited to see if the next time was really just a repeat or a second verse!  All the while Bloodsail pirates are running around me, attacking semi-innocent goblins, and creating mayhem.  So there you go.  Next time you’re in a raid, you don’t need an off tank, just a drunk bard belting out some garbled incantation to the approximate tune of ‘It’s a Small World After All.’

So there are three quick references to the ever-expanding-and-me-growing-less-and-less-interested-in Pirates of the Caribbean movies (I still like the ride).  Maybe once we find them all, Blizzard will finally dig up some ninja and kung fu references to splice into their game world.  Master Betty Pain, anyone?

Arrr You Ready? (for Partial Insanity?!)

Well, my little pet project of grinding out the Bloodsail Buccaneers rep to Honored this weekend took less time than expected.  The whole thing actually took me only about four to four and a half hours to get it all done.  Which to be honest, was much shorter than I was expecting based on the last time I did the grind (which was with a level 70 Death Knight, back when the guards were level 67.)  I suppose it may have had something to do with actually having tier 10 dps gear on as I mowed down guard after guard, but the point is it was a pretty easy grind and a welcome one after grinding Outland dungeon rep for weeks.  So in the end I got one of the most coveted prizes in all of Warcraft: A hat!

Honestly, I think that has more to do with this being associated with the Insane in the Membrane achievement than anything else.  Because if you were to explain to someone, not just someone who doesn’t play World of Warcraft, but someone who hasn’t heard of the Bloodsail Buccaneers grind (They exist.  There are a lot of them.  No, seriously, I’ve met these people) that you are killing any chances of stepping into any goblin city on Azeroth and spent hours upon hours killing guards just so you can get a hat, they’d think that you were completely nuts.  Granted, nowadays there’s a title to go along with it, but when it comes down to it what do you want more – the title or the hat?  That’s right.  The hat.

I suppose it would be worth it to toot my own horn and say I did make this grind a bit harder than it needed to be. You see there are two ways to get Booty Bay Bruisers to spawn, one is to just walk around until they show up and the other is to kill the other NPCs around the city have the guards spawn in response to stopping the innocent bloodshed.  The latter is the route most people (at least on my server) choose to go, they plot through Booty Bay killing everyone and everything they can to gather up guards to slaughter en masse.  As someone who has just finished grinding a bunch of alts and leveled quite a bit in Stranglethorn Vale, this method sucks for people who just want to turn in their quests.  I’ve seen upwards of 5-6 people sitting around in a room just waiting for a single quest giver to spawn so they can turn it in and get their XP and a couple of silver pieces. So as a policy, I refused to kill Quest NPCs for this achievement.  None.  At all.  Once I reached hostile with Booty Bay and the guard would spawn simply as a response to me being there, I also stopped killing any non-guard NPCs in the city.  I would just walk around and kill the guards, and no one else.  This meant restrictive use of AoE attacks, or cleaves (one of the reasons I switched to Frost DPS over my Blood Tank spec after the first hour.)

In general, people seemed quite happy with this technique.  Amongst the questions of “Why are you killing the guards?”  I had some people who sat and watched me, seemed to take notice that I was avoiding the other NPCs and then offered up buffs and even heals in some situations (Low level versions, but the gesture was very much appreciated).  Over the four hours, I got buffs from paladins, druids, and priests, and I’d like to think that I was making a good impression by not just wholesale slaughtering the entire city (I want to see that in a political campaign someday: “Vote Jim Horferson. At least he didn’t wholesale slaughter the city.”)  But the grind was not without incident, I give you exhibit A:

Honestly, I couldn’t figure out why they were so ticked off. They saw me standing in a corner and killing the guards that spawned.  I didn’t even glance at the 5 or so other NPCs that were next to me, only the guards.  They watched me do this for about 5 minutes.  Then they got mad about it.  To be fair my response could be construed as a bit rude, but I was trying to explain that unlike the 2 other people that were currently killing everything in sight at the other end of town (poor poor tavern) I was just killing the guards, and was promptly given the cold shoulder via automated message.  Can’t please everyone I guess, and while I must confess that for a moment I harbored bitterness about this, since I took such care to do it, that I even wavered on the thought of showing the young paladin what I COULD have been doing instead and followed her around killing any NPC she interacted with.  This would have been mean.  Very mean.  I refused to let myself sink to the level of a common troll (not the darkspear kind, I like them. The trade chat kind.) and resisted the urge and continued with my plan.

But I suppose after reading all of that, you’re rolling your eyes and saying “Get on with it Vrykerion.  What about the experiment?” Ah yes, I did mention wanting to test that little question about whether you still needed to have Honored with the Bloodsail and Exalted with the goblins at the same time, didn’t I?  Well, I did continue with my experiment.  I grabbed a couple of stacks of silk cloth, grabbed a sack of red dye and hitched it down to outside of booty bay to pay a visit to the Bloodsail Traitor and after a couple of trade ins, I can see with upmost certainty, that NO. YOU DO NOT NEED TO MEET BOTH REQUIREMENTS AT THE SAME TIME. Full stop.  After hitting Friendly with the Bloodsail, the requirement to be honored with them did not reappear in its place on my tracker. I can only assume that this has been changed at some point, and going into Cataclysm especially (since I heard somewhere that Knot may also be disappearing from the Dire Maul) that you don’t need to satisfy all the requirements at the same time.

Despite the fact that this achievement has been this way for some unknown amount of time (anecdotally at least), I’m sure this will continue the out pour of anger about how “completely trivial and easy” this achievement has become.  I’m just going to state my opinion on this once, and then let it rest, unless you are completing this achievement at level 60 (via stopped XP or not installing Burning Crusade), then it is easy.  Granted, it is also time consuming and potentially exceptionally expensive, but it’s not Alone in the Darkness or A Tribute to Immortality.  I personally do not subscribe to the idea of taking more time means an in increase in difficulty.  As for trivial?  The entire achievement is based around getting exalted with a bunch of groups that there is no point in being exalted with.  It is and always has been the definition of trivial! (As for it becoming commonplace, no I don’t think that even with these changes you’re going to see every Jefferson, Nixon and Truman with this achievement. It’s still a big time and money sink, and I think that will put off a number of people from doing this even without the bloody Shendralar or freeing knot.)

So what now? Well, I’m not going to get my goblin rep back yet for one.  I won’t be able to finish Ravenholdt or the Darkmoon Fair nearly in time for Cataclysm, and if they so happen to just change the Bloodsail rep requirement to exalted instead of honored, I want a bit of a head start (I don’t they will, but fortune favors the prepared).  Besides, I have no need to deal with goblins.  I have my robo chicken already, I have alts that can still peruse the neutral auction house, I’m a fully trained gnomish engineer.  What could I possibly need to be in good graces with the goblins for yet?


Blizzard Cures Insanity (Partially)

WARNING: This post contains potential spoilers to the achievements and possibly some minor hints to content in Cataclysm.  You have been warned.

So a few weeks ago there was a cry that ripped through the forums, blogs and twitters of many an Achievement Hunter.  While not as loud as the cry over RealID some months before, there was a very vocal minority to the changes to one very particular achievement in the game: Insane in the Membrane.  While those who had already claimed this ridiculously time consuming achievement would be able to keep theirs, it came to light that due to certain changes in the Dire Maul (something about the levels changing, and certain things not dropping, like the books… I think? Maybe.  I’m not clear on the details, as anyone who reads this regularly will note – I don’t read plot spoilers for Cataclysm) thus locking out anyone from obtaining exalted with the Shendralar and more or less killing the achievement. While I wasn’t extremely angry about it, as I was waiting to see what was going to pan out with the achievement because of Cataclysm before thinking of attempting it (for this exact reason), a lot of other people were extremely angry about this change. Prompting my favorite joke out of the entire experience, that this is the only time you’ll ever hear about people being ticked off because someone “cured insanity.”

The problem was made even worse when the blues on the forums were trying to explain through some strange attempts at legalese to weasel the way out of the explanation that they had given that it WOULD be doable even in Cataclysm, so there was no need to rush and now a mere month and a half before the expansion arrives, they’re going back on it.  This made the already mad people, even madder. They were going insane over not being able to go insane.  Normally, I try to give the blues to benefit of the doubt – but this was pretty far fetched.  The general argument was that it was still going to be in the game, as in it wouldn’t be removed for people who already had it, but you wouldn’t be able to get it anymore, that it was a Wrath of the Lich King only kind of thing.  That was what they meant when they said it wasn’t going away… oooooh…  So then why didn’t we not have to rush to get it done before Cataclysm?

Yea, it was a pretty sketchy situation, but I was happy to see that in the latest Beta build that they’ve actually altered the achievement.  Insane in the Membrane no longer requires being exalted with the Shendralar.  Now granted, it’s still beta (Still…) and can change at the zero hour, but that means that if you only have the Shendralar left, then you will have the achievement come Catalcysm.  If not, it means that the achievement should technically still be obtainable.  While I do hear that Ravenholdt is going to be harder in Cataclysm, but I can’t confirm that. Sadly, I can only see the onslaught of complaints this will generate from those who already got Shendralar to exalted.  I mean, that’s no easy or cheap task.  Between carting all the books around and of course the other materials to use said books, there’s a hefty amount of work that will probably be seen as “unnecessary” in the eyes of those who already spent their time on it.

The only thing I can possibly say to alleviate the building rage in people’s hearts is that it’s not like there was much choice.  It was either remove Shendralar, or remove the achievement (from being obtainable at least).  Which I suppose that someone will undoubtedly say that others shouldn’t be able to get it anymore because they already have it.  Someone always says that.  Same with mounts, pets, weapons, etc. /sigh.  But really I think this news is great.

Finally, if Dire Maul is changing as much as they say that leaves the question of what to do about the grind of getting Honored with Bloodsail and Exalted with the goblins at the same time, since you might not be able to free the little goblin and get the ogre suits anymore.  There’s still substantial talk that this isn’t a requirement anymore and you can do one and then the other without worrying about losing the requirements.  The problem is there’s no consensus and the mileage seems to vary depending on person to person, mostly due to the fact that the achievement, being a feat of strength, is not trackable.  So I’ve taken it upon myself to test this (since I have time to kill…  and plenty of goblins to kill) using the tracking macro: “/script AddTrackedAchievement(2336)” which I was able to find on the forums.  I’ll be getting back on here on whether or not the cloth turn ins remove my Bloodsail rep requirement from Insane on the Membrane here soon.  Till then, rest easy about scarfing down every Pristine Black Diamond that pop ups on the auction house, save your gold for some Darkmoon cards, and I’ll post again on this when I have more news.