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The Instance Group Resurgent in Azeroth… Sort Of… And Hallow’s End October 24, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
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We decided to get our collective act together and get into the game so as to get used to the new realities of WoW 6.0.

And we tried.

However, due to authenticator problems, bronchitis, and a previous engagement, only Potshot and I ended up in game last Saturday night.

Such is life.

We decided that, just two levels shy of the cap, we probably no longer needed to stick with the group on levels.  We both chose to run through some of the quests in the Kun-Lai Summit area, which has the advantage of having a series of fun/interesting quests and a 24-slot bag as a quest reward.  Even with the new bank tab for crafting materials, I will still lunge for and bag space upgrade.  I have been trained to do so over the years.

Kun-lai Summit

Kun-Lai Summit Map

We didn’t bother grouping up as we were on different quests in the zone, or even getting on coms, but we chatted on the guild channel as we moved through the zone.  I got my bag and we both hit level 89.

However, I could not stop there.  The next day I got on, I wrapped up the zone and moved into the Townlong Steppe until Alioto hit level 90.

Level 90

Level 90

I did that for a number of reasons.  90 unlocks a few things, including the ability to train flight form, which is one of the main reasons you should level up a druid.

I love when I can fly by the form hasn't drawn yet...

I love when I can fly but the form hasn’t drawn yet…

I was a bit confused to find that they had consolidated the three travel forms into a single button that just transforms you into the form the game thinks is most appropriate.  I can no longer be the Nelk (nigh elf elk) on command.  On the other hand, when my flying form dives into water, it changes to the water form, and back when I jump out, so there is some upside.  I’ll get used to it.

Of course, there was another reason I wanted another level 90… Alioto is my 4th character to hit the level cap.  I wanted another bite at the apple every day when it came to the Headless Horseman.  You can queue up once per day per character for a shot at the horseman, with just about everybody looking to get the mount drop.

So that is what I do, four times every evening.  I log in each of my level 90s an hope to get that drop.

There he is again...

There he is again…

On the one hand, the fight is pretty easy and the queue time is pretty short.  On the other, I wonder just how many times I will have ended up killing this guy over the years looking for that mount.

Unlike Brewfest, it turned out that I had one more Hallow’s End achievement.  Somehow I had neglected to hit all the candy buckets in Pandaria last year, so I rounded that up.

Anyway, most of the group has resolved their issues… or gotten healthier… and it looks like we might make our full return this weekend.  We shall see.

Hallow’s End, Brewfest, and an Empty Feeling October 29, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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We were out shopping a couple of weeks back and stopped in at the Spirit Halloween store.  It is one of those seasonal stores that sets up for a holiday in an otherwise empty store front and then goes away once the holiday passes.  My daughter was looking for something for a Halloween costume.  As we wandered around the store, I found the whole place depressing.

The store was hastily put together, ending up feeling very “fly by night,” which of course it was.  The merchandise struck me as very cheap (in quality, not price) and often tacky in ways that offered no real redeeming humor value.  And the whole thing was set up in the former location of one of the two great hobby shops in the valley when I was growing up, adding another layer of despair to the whole scene in my eyes.

And, while I am sure I could work this into a “subscription to F2P” cash shop metaphor, that isn’t where I am going today.  This is more of a holiday depression themed post.

Though, really, depression is too strong of a word.  It is more like malaise.

We jumped back into World of Warcraft early in September, which put us in line for a round of Azerothian holidays.  At the time I thought that would be a good thing.  I have fond memories of many of the holiday events in WoW.  The instance group pursued many of them over the years.

However, once the holiday parade began, I started to feel a little different.

First there was Brewfest, which I headed out to see the day it got set up.  It was outside of Orgrimmar.  The music was playing (which is the one bit I couldn’t get enough of) the booths were set up, and the quests were ready to go.  I started out on the intro quests and quickly began to feel like I had done all of this before.

Which, of course, I had.

I checked out the now account unified achievements and saw that I had pretty much done it all.

Getting wild at Brewfest

Oh yeah, now I remember

I had raced the rams, captured the worpletinger, fought the dark iron, killed Coren Direbrew repeatedly, and even got the Swift Brewfest Ram.

CD21Mount

So it was one of those things where there was really nothing new to do, the event itself seeming relatively unchanged since I last ran through it vigorously some four years ago.  And with unified achievements and shared mounts across accounts, I had all the goodies right down to the Brewmaster title.  So I listened to the Brewfest music a bit and went on my way.

Likewise, when Hallow’s End showed up after Brewfest, I felt like I had done just about everything.  I am one achievement shy on Hallow’s End, having earned 18 of 19 already.  And that last one is for the candy buckets in Pandaria.  And while I am sure that the Headless Horseman has some new/different drops this year (as no doubt Coren Direbrew did)  I actually do not have any characters high enough level to queue up for those fights at the moment.

Last Call for the Headless Horseman

Hallow’s End – 2009

On the heels of Hallow’s End we will have Pilgrim’s Bounty, for which I also already have all of the achievements.  I will no doubt use the event as a way to level up my cooking skills on some new characters, but aside from that, I am not feeling a big thrill.  And then will come Winter’s Veil where, again, I have about all of the achievements I can realistically expect to earn at this point.

None of which is exclusive to WoW at this point.  Holiday events in most games tend to hit a final state where the changes that come year by year are pretty small, so you end up doing the same thing every year.  It just happens that WoW is the game I am playing at the moment… or at least the one that has holiday events… and happens to be a game where I have, in the past, invested quite a bit of time in those events.  To use the standard phrase, I have both been there and done that for nearly every holiday in WoW.

Which brings up the question as to what else I should expect.

Do you jump into MMO holidays every year, even if little has changed, or are they more of a “fun once” sort of thing with you as well?

And should companies change up their holiday events, or is tradition more important than newness in this case?

The Final Achievement October 23, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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For now.

With Blizzard letting me cancel my account outside the short window between the expiration of my annual pass and the point of automated billing, I was off the hook.  The account was cancelled and would no longer be a worry.  Around 5am today it was closed.

But last night, when there were still a few more hours left to go, I decided to log in one more time and bang out one last achievement.

The Hallow’s End event was running.  As the blog tag will indicate, I as an individual, and we as the instance group, have spent a chunk of time doing things around Hallow’s End over the last few years.

A year ago I was left hanging on the “A Mask for All Occasions” achievement, not having noticed that there was a vendor selling the damn things.   Back in my day, you earned you masks by hitting up an inn keeper every sixty minutes and hoping against hope you would get something you needed.

Anyway, the achievement was undone.  I needed two more masks.

Which is actually kind of funny, because two years ago I started  Hallow’s End two masks short.  Back then it was the two blood elf masks.  And I ended still missing one.  But since then they added worgen and goblin masks, setting me back to six masks.

As I logged on, I was a bit worried.  Were there going to be more masks to collect?  Was this going to go from an amusing whim to a chore?

Fortunately, there were no new masks on the list.  I found the vendor outside the gates of Stormwind.  He needed some candy for currency, but the Hallow’s End daily quests are also right there as well.  I grabbed the stink bomb related set, cleaned up Stormwind and bombed the Undercity, collected my quest rewards, took about four steps and bought the masks.

Achievement complete.  Ironic that it should feature a blood elf mask.

That left my achievement balance… and I think these are now combined achievements if I understand the changes that came with Pandaria… as such.

Achievement Totals

Clearly I am not challenging anybody for achievement supremacy, but it does indicate where I spent my time.  A lot of it was spent with world events.  I would probably have even more there if the Children’s Week activities did not include those battle ground achievements.

Exploration is everything up through Wrath of the Lich King and some of Cataclysm.  Dungeons are all the standard five person instances through WotLK, not including the final three they added after we complete Utgarde Pinnacle… just a little over three years ago.

I regret that we never got back together and ran those final three dungeons.  That would have nicely capped off what was clearly our peak in Azeroth.  But there is no going back.  Well, at least not on Blizzard’s servers.

I finished that final achievement so quickly that I fished around a bit to see if there was another one I ought to knock off.  And certainly I was close on a few.

This Way Lies Madness…

In then end though, I decided to leave it with the masks achievement.  That was one I had been struggling to get, so it seemed fitting to end on that.

My annual pass was at an end.

Green Armadillo and Anjin both spent a post summing up their annual pass experience, viewed through hindsight.

For me, it was a wash.  My math is like Green Armadillo’s, I paid for the year in the most economical way possible.  I would have purchased Diablo III on day one at full price if it had not been for the pass.  I probably would have spent about as much on WoW, though I would have likely cancelled earlier.  And I got a mount.  So aside from Blizzard annoying me with their cancellation policy, it was a net neutral.

Honestly, how many things in life even turn out that well in the end?

And what of Azeroth going forward?

I think, fittingly enough, that WoW is now about in the same position that EverQuest was when I started this blog.  EverQuest was seven and a half years old back then, Blizzard is just shy of eight now.

I have fond memories of both games, and those memories are about a time when the game was considerably different from the way they are today.  And, with both, I have looked for ways to go back and recapture a bit of that past; Fippy Darkpaw for one, Emerald Dream for the other.  I can get a taste of things there, revive and relive old memories, and wander among the ghosts of the past.  But it is, in the end, still all in the past.

Azeroth is officially a place of nostalgia here.

And so I bid Stormwind farewell and flew off into the sunset.

The Sun Was Cooperating For Once…

I will be back to visit I am sure.

I just do not think I will ever really be a part of the game again.

I Thought This Achievement Was Going to be More Difficult… November 1, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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As I mentioned in the October in Review post, and which you probably missed since it was at the end of a wall of text, my daughter and I are back to playing WoW a bit, thanks in large part to the promise of Pandas.  And with Hallows End going on, I decided to try and get that mask achievement finished at last.

And then I got an unexpected achievement.


I barely got myself into Uldum before I got it too.  I went through the little intro event.

Zany, madcap adventures

And shortly ended up at Ramkahen, where I was promptly flamed by a passing epic dragon.

Laying in the Fire

I am guessing they must have upped the Deathwing travel rate, since back when Cataclysm launched, I had my hunter out in Uldum for ages and never once saw him.  But Vikund, he was out there for a couple hours and Ramkahen got lit up three times.  And those flames last for a while.

And did they nerf flight routes while I was away as well?  Vikund seemed to have all the flight points in Cataclysm, even in zones he had never visited before.  Odd.

Anyway, I managed to visit all of the pumpkins in the new Cataclysm zones for that achievement, which only left me with the mask achievement… again.

Last year Hallow’s End finished up with me shy two masks.  Cataclysm added four more masks, so I had six to get.  I proceeded to hit every last pumpkin in Azeroth I could find and ended up with this.


Two damn masks left to go.  Again.  Ah well, next year in Stormwind, as they say.

At least I got the Creepy Crate pet for a few of my characters.  And the critters it eats count towards the Critter Kill Squad guild achievement, which is good, as we seem to need another 30K critters to finish it off.  Still, we have been progressing, and the last time I was paying attention to it, we needed 40K critters.  Every little bit helps.

And I am sure the Creepy Crate will make for an interesting companion pet when pet battles get introduced as part of Pandaclysm.

Sorting Through My Hallow’s End Loot November 2, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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Hallow’s End is over, it closed up at midnight on October 31st.  And while I didn’t go all out to do things for Hallow’s End, I still ended up with a few cool items.

I did Trick-or-Treat and used the dungeon finder to slay the Headless Horseman at least once a day.

And while I did not get the coveted Horseman’s Reins, I did at least get the flying broom.  It only lasts a few days, but it is a cool mount and it summons instantly.

Vikund on the Broom

And I did get the Horseman’s Horrific Helm, which is not only a pretty good helm, but also lets you do the Headless Horesman’s laugh.

For This I Will Show Helm

And I even got one of the masks I was looking for.  But only one.  I am still one shy for the A Mask for All Occasions achievement.

One Shy...

Not bad I suppose.  But now I have to wait another year to try and knock out that final Hallow’s End achievement.

Oh, and I got about a half a dozen sinister squashlings and an equal number of hallowed helms, both of which I already had.

Ah well, maybe they will change up Hallow’s End a bit more next year.

One More Hallow’s End Achievement To Go October 26, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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Again, as with Brewfest, the completionist in me wants to finish off that one last Hallow’s End achievement.

Unfortunately, that last achievement for Hallow’s End is a bit of a pain.  This will be my third year on it and it is simple a matter of luck as to whether it gets done or not.

Two Masks Left

Right now though, rather like Gordon, I am feeling a bit of WoW malaise.  Cataclysm is a month away.  I’ve been on, read up on my specs, tried out the new skills on a few characters, but am generally in a holding pattern until Cataclysm hits and the instance group returns to Azeroth.

So I am not on enough, or interested in logging on enough, to go do a trick or treat every hour in hopes of getting those last two masks.  Blood Elf masks.  Damn Blood Elves.

I do get on to do the Headless Horseman once a day.  I was having a problem with WoW locking up during the Headless Horseman event.  Fortunately, Larisa was having the same issue, and a comment on her post pointed me to an addon that fixes a tool tip crash that seems to be afflicting WoW of late.

The addon basically suppresses tool tips and prints them out in your chat window instead.  A simple fix.

Not that my locking up seemed to slow down the demise of the Headless Horseman.  Even with a disconnected Ret Pally, three groups I was in killed him and I logged back on to find I had the daily quest done.

So I suspect that I won’t finish this achievement again, despite this being my third run through Hallow’s End.  We shall see.

The Ringless Horseman November 5, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
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(Post title courtesy of Kaozz)

It was 10pm on Halloween night.

Real life Trick-or-Treating was at an end, our own little trick-or-treater was in bed, the candles in the pumpkins had been blown out, the porch light had been turned off, and all was finally quiet.  Even the cats had settled down,

On Eldre’Thalas, which runs on Eastern Time, the Hallow’s End had faded.  Trick-or-treating was also at an end, the decorations had been stowed away in their various bit buckets, and Azeroth was back to its usual self.

Fortunately, as we learned at Brewfest, the instance servers run on Pacific Time, so they are late to start and late to end when it comes to Azeroth holidays.

Which meant that we had a few more shots at the Headless Horseman to try and get his mount.  Four to be exact.

Ula was not on, but Gaff, in the form of his druid joined us for another round of Headless Horseman fun.  So we were:

73 Druid – Nerral
80 Priest – Skronk
80 Warlock – Bungholio
80 Warrior – Earlthecat
80 Paladin – Vikund

Unfortunately, you need to be level 75 to summon the Headless Horseman, so having Nerral along did not add another shot at the mount.

As before, the battles were pretty manageable.  Not totally easy, but the only way we were going to lose was to screw up pretty badly.

But in the end, no mount.

We got lots of rings, hence the title of this post.  We’d all be surprised if he had any rings left after our haul.

Not that the rings were bad (Vikund is wearing the Ring of Ghoulish Glee now), but by the end we all had most of the rings.  You cannot sell them.  You cannot have more than one of each.   Nerral has a couple of rings now that he can use when he hits level 80.

Other than rings, we did get the Magic Broom to drop four times, and Vikund picked up the Horseman’s Baleful Blade.  It isn’t quite a Tankard of Terror, but it looks nice.

But no Horseman’s Horrific Helm (which would have been nice for Vikund or Earl) and no Horseman’s Reins, the item that gives you the Headless Horseman’s mount.

Did anybody get those reins?

And with that, Hallow’s End was over for us.

HallowsEndEnd

Last Call for the Headless Horseman

Until next year Sir Thomas Thompson!

Horsemen and Champions October 29, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
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While we finished the last, real, official, current, canonical five person non-heroic instance last week, swatting down King Ymiron like the bug he is, there were still things on our agenda.  Some loose ends to tie up.

The whole group was on.

80 Priest – Skronk
80 Warlock – Bungholio
80 Mage – Ula
80 Warrior – Earlthecat
80 Paladin – Vikund

And the first order of business was the Headless Horseman, a Hallow’s End standard.

This is our second year hitting the Headless Horseman in hopes of getting his mount.

HHTOCflyingHH

The Headless Horseman Takes Off

For the group this represented attempts 16 through 20 to get the brass ring.  But it was not to be.  We now have quite a selection of rings, so many that we had to leave one horseman corpse unlooted, but no mounts.

Going after the Headless Horseman did not take us long though.  Compared to last year taking him down seemed quite easy.  There was no question that we were going to win.  Last year we lost once and it was work to win the rest of the time.  This year we previously went at him minus Earl and with a level 54 shaman in tow and it still seemed more like a chase than a fight.  (The shaman died a couple of times, but that didn’t change the balance of the fight.)

I don’t know if this means that were are just better this year in skill/equipment or if the HH didn’t get big enough boost over last year, but we beat him down 5 out of 5 times on Saturday and are 20 out of 20 overall so far.

Which left us enough time to go take a full group run at the Trial of the Champion.

We tried to do this as a four person group previously, and were not successful.  This instance is supposed to be a bit of a step up from the other five person instances in Northrend, so we were back again to give it a try.

HHTOCLineup

Mounted for Battle

The first part, the mounted combat segment, was a bit chaotic as before.  Three of us died during that part.  However, the graveyard is close and if you run back you can mount up and join the battle again.  So after a lot of running around, we defeated the first three bosses in mounted combat.

Then we were treated to a change.  The event has been altered since last we ran it so that now, once the mounted portion is done, the bosses don’t just turn around and start wailing on your lance equipped character.  Instead, they just retire to the gate through which they came, allowing us to get ourselves together and plan out attack.

We faced Morka the Skullcrusher, Zul’tore, and Deathstalker Visceri.  Visceri had a mana bar, so we figured he ought to be first on our list.  We went straight after him.

Earl was able to keep all three on him and, while healing got a little scary for a moment or two, once Visceri was down, the drama ebbed and we were able to drop the other two.

The first round was complete.  We were now further than last time.

Next up was Eadric the Pure, who shows up with nine trash mobs in three groups of three.  We were surprised to find that none of these groups were linked with Eadric, so we were able to mow them down and then move on to the big guy.

His big move is Radiance, a flash of light that damages and blinds you for a short time.  However, this attack can be defeated by simple turning away from him, which the announcement that heralds the attack pretty much tells you to do.

We figured that out pretty quickly, though we all turned around at the announcement of another of his attacks, having fallen for the old “Simon Says” gambit, which did not diminish his Hammer of the Righteous.

In the end, Eadric went down.

Which left us facing the bonus round, the Black Knight.  He was a pushover out on the tournament grounds,  but now he was back from the dead and seemed a bit more formidable.

We had to face the Black Knight three times to get through the encounter.  He comes at you in three phases, first as a scourge, then as a skeleton, and finally as a ghost, and each segment has its own flavor, which we had to learn the hard way.

The first phase was straightforward.  We never had a problem there.

The second phase, when he is a skeleton, sees the Black Knight summon a group of minions who got out of control the first time we ran into them, leading to a wipe.

The second time around, we took care of the second phase by getting Earl to collect all the minions and then Bung and Ula rained area attacks on them, swatting them all down pretty quickly.  Then we smote the Black Knight, which lead us to the third phase, where we wiped again while trying to come to grips with the constant damage to the whole party and the “Marked for Death” special that hit and caused the death of Skronk early in the fight.  Another wipe.

So we ran through the the three phases one more time, there being no partial credit for the Black Knight, and at the final phase just had everybody keep a close eye on their health while we burned him down with maximum DPS.  We still ended up losing Ula and Bung in the fight, but they poured enough damage onto the Black Knight that we were able to finish him off.

And so we stood in victory over the orb that was all that remained of the Black Knight.

HHTOCvictory

Black Knight - Not Invincible

Unfortunately, there was no achievement.  The Trial of the Champion achievement requires you to defeat all the possible bosses in the instance.  One pass through leaves at least three bosses left undone.  So if we want the achievement, we are going to have to come back for another visit.

On the upside, the loot chests were pretty nice, with a couple of nice, purple upgrades for the casters and a good cloak for Vikund.

And so we made it through the Trial of the Champion.  Since it was Hallow’s End there were a few out takes from the victory shot, since everybody seemed intent on scarfing the candy from the Headless Horseman.

Skronk Hurls HHTOCEarl HHTOCbung

We all had the Out With It achievement already, we just like throwing up in public.

As for next week.  I’m not sure what we’ll do on Halloween.  Probably five more shots at the Headless Horseman and some more puking.

Hallowed in Alterac Valley October 28, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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Like Potshot, I have been trying to finish up the Hallow’s End achievements to get the meta achievement and the title of “The Hallowed.”

Once I figured out that the flimsy mask achievement was not a prerequisite for the title, I figured getting the meta achievement would be easy.  After all, this is our second pass through Hallow’s End achievements.  I picked up most of them last year at this time, so there were just a couple more to get.

And I was even more encouraged that I got the Sinister Squashling on my first trick-or-treat.  Things were looking good.

In fact, very quickly I was only waiting for somebody in the group to get the Leper Gnome wand.  That was all I needed to complete the  Masquerade achievement.  And nobody in our guild had one.

I could have paid somebody to hit me with the Leper Gnome wand.  People were shouting offers to do so for 5-20 gold.  However, after my daughter got ripped off by somebody offering that service, my faith in my fellow man dipped just a little lower.  There is no real recourse if you give somebody money and then they decline to wand you.

And so I waited for somebody in the guild to get one of those wands.  A week went by.  No Leper Gnome wands.

Well, actually, there were five Leper Gnome wands, but they were all on my account.  I was having no problem getting them.

At one point, Skronk got the random wand.

We met up and he hit me with that.  On the third try, I rolled Leper Gnome!

And I didn’t get the achievement.

The achievement is quite clear.  You need to be transformed by the Hallowed Wand – Leper Gnome, not just turned into a Leper Gnome by a wand.

Back to trick-or-treating.

Then, one afternoon I was in the Alterac Valley battleground.  I was just shy of the honor points I needed to buy something new.  And as we say waiting for the battle to start somebody said, “Anybody have the ninja wand?  I need it for the achievement.”

I had the ninja wand.  Heck, by that point I had most of the wands.  So I hit him with the ninja and he got the title and the achievement.

Seeing his success, I asked in the raid if anybody had the Leper Gnome wand.

Nobody responded.

Seconds passed.

The gates started up and the battle was just beginning when suddenly somebody hit me with the Leper Gnome wand.

TheHallowedAV

Hallowed in Alterac Valley

The title was mine!  I am not sure who got me, but thank you very much!

And then we went on to win AV in record time.

Of course, about two hours later, Ula logged on and got the Leper Gnome wand trick-or-treating.  That is the way it always seems to go.

Now I just have to work on that flimsy mask achievement while we wait for the next big WoW holiday event, which is apparently Pilgrim’s Bounty.  I’m not sure how that is going to play outside of the US, but we’ll see.

Weighted Jack-o’-Lantern Fun October 21, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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I only noticed recently that the Weighted Jack-o’-Lanterns that you can throw at people to give them a pumpkin head actually travel at the same speed as an epic ground mount in World of Warcraft.

Of course, there is an achievement related to those Jack-o’-Lanterns.  You have to throw one at each of the current player races in the game to get it.  I managed to get that.

WJL00
Hanging around in Dalaran will get that done, though it appears that the Horde has been taken over by Blood Elves and Tauren.  Undead aren’t too tough to find, but it took me a while to find an Orc and a Troll.

Anyway, we were idling in Ironforge essentially waiting for the Trick or Treat timer to run down when we noticed a guy on his Hallow’s End broom circling the area between the bank and the auction house.

As he circled we saw that somebody had thrown a weighted Jack-o’-Lantern at him and it was following him around his circuit.

Then somebody threw another one.  I added one of my own.

Soon this guy had quite a parade following him around.

Around Ironforge

Around Ironforge

Here They Come!

Here They Come!

There They Go!

There They Go!

Things to do in Ironforge when you are bored.