Tag Archives: Achievements

Results of the Summer Loremaster Project

Back in June, with the summer hiatus of the instance group looming, I embarked on a project.  I was going to finish up quests in Azeroth in pursuit of the Loremaster achievement.  And I was going to attempt to do it with characters that were at the appropriate level for the zones being run.

The first big effort for the achievement was the 1-60 game in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms.  That meant getting the quests achievement from all the zones in the old world, which includes some content from The Burning Crusade as well as the whole Cataclysm revamp.

Azeroth - The Burning Crusade timeframe

Azeroth – The Burning Crusade time frame

I had a few zones done already, thanks to the alts we rolled up when Cataclysm hit, but a lot of the zones were still there waiting for me.  So I rolled up a couple of new characters, as well as reviving a couple more old ones who had been languishing, and set out.  The results were covered in a series of posts charting my progress across Azeroth.

The old world took from mid-June until early August to complete.  It also left me with three characters (out of the five I used for various parts of the achievement) set up to head into the meat of the content from The Burning Crusade, Outland.

Here I had a couple of zones finished off.  I only ran bits of Hellfire Peninsula with my rogue Trianis in order to gear up a bit because I already had the achievement.  I was also able to skip Zangarmarsh, having wrapped that zone up ages ago.  That left me with five zones and 434 quests to finish off Outland.

  • Terokkar Forest  62-65 – 63 quests
  • Nagrand  64-67 – 75 quests
  • Blade’s Edge Mountains 65-68 – 86 quests
  • Netherstorm 66-70 – 120 quests
  • Shadowmoon Valley  67-70 – 90 quests

First up was Terokkar Forest, which went smoothly enough up until about 50 quests, when they dried up rapidly.  I sat for a while just two quests shy of the achievement before finally finding a couple of Shattrath related quest chains to finish off the zone.  But then came Nagrand.  To finish that up meant doing a set of group quests, then getting to level 70 and following a quest chain in from Shadowmoon Valley to wrap up the achievement.

So I left Nagrand empty handed and headed to the next zone on the list, the Blade’s Edge Mountains.  There I found myself wondering how we did some of these zones back in the day.  Doing the quests, at level, with a flying mount turned into a considerable chore, so the idea of doing them all with a ground mount seemed insane.  Eventually the zone ground me down and I left it unfinished.

Ogres must die

But I got to kill a lot of ogres

That was about the end of things.  It was September by that point and I found other distractions.  I binged on Pokemon for a while, finishing up  Pokemon Y, Pokemon White, and Pokemon White Version 2, which got me set for the upcoming release of Pokemon Alpha Ruby & Omega Sapphire.

In Azeroth I finally got my nether ray mounts and worked on pet battles a bit.  Then WoW 6.0 dropped and it was time to start thinking about that and the expansion, with Brewfest and Hallow’s End in there along the way.

And I did not totally give up on the Loremaster achievement.  Having played my rogue through to level 68 or so in a short period of time, I started to like the class.  I sent him out to Shadowmoon Valley for a while, but then decided to see if I could run him up into Pandaria before Warlords of Draenor hit.  He is now level 76, running quests in the Grizzly Hills, and using Dungeon Finder to speed things up.

So I did not make it to Loremaster, and there is little chance I will do so before the expansion drops.  I just don’t have the inclination at the moment and there are other things to do now.  But I made some headway, and after we have returned to Draenor and fought the Iron Horde, I may once again pick up the task.  This is what I have remaining on the list of zones I started with, plus whatever Warlords of Draenor brings us.

Outland Achievements

  • Nagrand  64-67 – 75 quests
  • Blade’s Edge Mountains 65-68 – 86 quests
  • Netherstorm 66-70 – 120 quests
  • Shadowmoon Valley  67-70 – 90 quests

Northrend Achievements

  • Grizzly Hills    73-75 – 85 quests
  • Zul’Drak    73-77 – 100 quests
  • Sholazar Basin*    75-80 – 75 quests
  • Icecrown    77-80 – 140 quests
  • The Storm Peaks    77-80 – 100 quests

Cataclysm Achievements

  • Mount Hyjal    80-82 – 115 quests
  • Vashj’ir    80-82 – 130 quests
  • Deepholm    82-83 – 110 quests
  • Uldum    83-84 – 105 quests
  • Twilight Highlands    84-85 – 120 quests

 

Sliding Down the Blade’s Edge

Last time around I found my progress towards the Loremaster achievement in World of Warcraft… well… if not thwarted, at least delayed.  While I did a lot of quests in Nagrand, I found myself 12 quests shy of the achievement, and for 11 of those 12 quests I need a group or to be level 70.

Not the end of the world.  It isn’t like I will lose that progress if I run off and do something else.  But I had hit a stride of having racked up at least one more achievement each week as I pressed forward towards my goal, only to have my streak broken.  It was a minor hit to my morale.

But what are you going to do?

I wasn’t going to give up, so the only thing to do was to press on to the next zone.  For Outland, that would be the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

Blade's Edge Mountains Map

Blade’s Edge Mountains Map

I did not have an intro quest for the zone, and I do not think I had actually run a quest in the zone since maybe 2008.  So the first thing I did was head off to Stormwind to turn my experience bar back on.

I had turned the bar off at Nagrand so as to not out-level all of the content into complete triviality.  Now, with Nagrand behind me and the zones ahead pretty much okay for up to level 70, it was time to resume leveling.

Then it was back through the Dark Portal to Outland.

Coming soon: A DARKER Portal

Coming soon: A DARKER Portal to a new Outland!

It was time to find my way to the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

More after the cut.

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Slammed in Nagrand

After finishing Terokkar Forest last week I was feeling a bit optimistic about the next zone on my Loremater project checklist.  I was headed to Nagrand.

Nagrand Map

Nagrand Map

I was optimistic for a few reasons.  The first was because Nagrand is a zone that I seem to carry some fondness for in the back of my brain.  I remember doing the Kurenai faction grind, which is pretty easily accomplished if you have a yen for slaughtering ogres and collecting their war beads.  I finished that effort and have all of the talbuk mounts to prove it.  And while Hemet Nesingwary was lurking out there in the zone, what could he possibly do to me that he hadn’t done a dozen or so times before?

Hemet's Camp/Crash Site

Hemet’s Camp/Crash Site

The second reason was because I was already underway in the chase for the 75 quests needed for the Nagrand achievement.  Finishing up Terokkar required me to start in on Nagrand to pick up a quest line that would lead back to Terokkar.  So I was starting 10 quests up.  Go me.

Finally, Nagrand is kind of a pleasant zone, made up of rolling green hill with some rivers surrounded by hills, which keeps you from thinking about the color of the sky.

Flying in Nagrand

Flying in Nagrand

There are only a few ogre mounds and floating rocks and other oddities that mark much of the terrain of Outland.  And even the floating rocks are covered in green turf.

What could go wrong?

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Two Shy in Terokkar Forest

The chase for the Loremaster title continues in Outland.  Having decided to go through the unfinished zones the hard way, at level with a character new to each zone, it was time to get started.  My rogue, Trianis, ran through some of Hellfire Peninsula in order to gear up a bit and get to level 62 so that quests would be available, then headed into Terokkar Forest.

Map of Terokkar Forest

Map of Terokkar Forest

I will start off by stipulating that everything I bitched about while doing Bloodmyst Isle is present in Terokkar Forest as well; too many “kill 12 things” quests, the “kill 12 things” quests where there are only 15 things so if two people are trying to do the quest you start to hate each other, horrible drop rates for quests that require drops, having to run back and forth across the zone, being sent to kill minions and running back to the quest giver only to be told you now have to kill the boss behind all the now respawned minions, too many quests available to the player at one so that any story thread gets lost, and at least three escort quests where the NPC seems to actively seek out hostiles.

It is all there in the Blizzard of 2007, “People like quest? Then we will drown them in quests!” vision of how to make an MMO.

As I have said before, I have pretty much bought into Blizzard’s more recent vision of how to do a zone, where they limit you to two or three quests at a time to keep the story clear, pop up the “kill the boss” quest right then and there once you have killed the minions (or at least put the minions in combat with some of your allies so you don’t have to clear the field every time you need to pass through), and do not rely quite so heavily  “go kill a dozen foozles while we figure out where to send you next” mechanics.

And before you ask, no I don’t hate The Burning Crusade.  It has/had some of the best dungeon content in the game.  The instance group had quite a time there.  It is just the solo, overland quest philosophy that aches now even more than it did back then.

Anyway, all of that is there and… at least from this point forward… I will try not to dwell on those aspects of the zone.  They were at least mitigated by having access to a flying mount (though I started to yearn for the faster mounts after a few round trips) and playing through with a rogue who could at least stealth through bad guys at need.

So on to the zone… after the cut.

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Bloodmyst Isle – The Worst Zone in WoW

I know I have rolled up a Draenei character or two at some point.  There was a time that, if you wanted a shaman on the alliance side of things, you had to make a Draenei.  I am sure I gave this a whirl at some point.  But when I looked through my list of characters, I could only find a Draenei death knight.  Since death knights start at level 55, that means he never went through the whole Draenei starter zone.

So Draenei have not been my thing, what with only a single blue space goat in my roster.  Now however, with the whole Loremaster project going on, it was time to return to the Draenei level 10-20 zone, Bloodmyst Isle, and the last achievement I needed for the alliance 1-60 part of the game.

Bloodmyst Isle MAp

Bloodmyst Isle Map

This should have been a doddle.  The first twenty levels are often cited as the fun part of MMOs.  It gets you out in the open air, you run through some easy-peasy quests, you level up quickly, gain new skills, and generally experience a lot of the things that seem fun before ending up in the torpor of the mid-levels. But the Draenei experience lasted hours. It was a slow, horrible death process.  So much so that I am making it the official position of this blog that Bloodmyst Isle is currently the worst zone in World of Warcraft.  And I say this with the perspective of having done most of the 1-60 zones in the game over the last year, including Silithus, the Eastern Plagulands, most of Vashjir, and the blood elf starting zone.

I get to laying out the sins of this zone after the cut.

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Wrapping Up the Eastern Kingdoms

With the Cape of Stranglethorn out of the way, I had just four more zones left for the Eastern Kingdoms Loremaster achievement.  They were:

  • Eastern Plaguelands    40-45 – 70 quests
  • Badlands    44-48 – 35 quests
  • Searing Gorge    47-51 – 35 quests
  • Burning Steppes    49-52 – 40 quests

And given that my shaman, who had just finished up the Cape of Stranglethorn, had just turned level 40, I was a bit tempted to just keep running with him.

The Eastern Kingdoms

The Eastern Kingdoms

However, I decided to switch characters once again.  So far I have used a rogue who ended up at level 61, a monk who now sits at level 57, and my shaman.  Now I brought out my warrior, Makarov, who sat at level 46.  That seemed to be a bit high level to launch into the Eastern Plaguelands, but I had a reason to fall back on him.

For starters, he laid the groundwork for this Loremaster achievement bid back before I had actually decided to make a go of it.  As I leveled him up, he managed to knock out a few of the zones I would have otherwise had to go back and complete, the most immediate of which was the Western Plaguelands.  That meant he had a flight point up there.  Plus he had a fair start already on the Eastern Plaguelands, having completed about half of the required 70 quests for the zone achievement.  That was enough of a head start to seal the deal.  It was off to the Eastern Plaguelands with Makarov.

More after the cut, as there are four zones worth of words and pictures.

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The Cape of Stranglethorn

Once there was a zone called Stranglethorn Vale.  It was a place of jungle and raptors and trolls and missing pages from books and that bastard Hemet Nesingwary who would continue to haunt our existence through every expansion with his wildlife slaughtering requests.

It was a large and somewhat controversial zone… though some appreciated the quest design… that would try your patience for endless running (you didn’t have a mount when you got there back in the day) and managing your bag space.

It was where the Horde and Alliance really started to merge.  Before Stranglethorn Vale, each side had most zones to themselves.  Afterwards, everybody ran down the same list of zones.

And it was placed right in the middle of the leveling curve, in that danger zone when the fun of the first twenty or so levels had receded from your rear view mirror, but the level cap of 60 (way back when) was still somewhere over the horizon.

At one point I had five or six characters stuck somewhere in their mid-30s, bags full of pages from The Green Hills of Stranglethorn and logs full of quests with horrible drop rates, congested “kill a single named mob” choke points, or more variations on slaughter for hire, unable to progress due to a desire never to see that jungle again.

Stranglethorn Vale that was...

Stranglethorn Vale that was…

From the rebel camp to Booty Bay, from the Vile Reef to the Venture Company sites, from Kurzen’s Camp to the Nesingwary Expedition, from the Gubashi Arena to the pirates off the the southeast coast, Stranglethorn Vale has a lot going on.  And while you can blue sky daydream about the good old days in the Vale, you have to remember that Blizzard felt it had to boost the questing experience in Dustwallow Marsh, adding in Mudsproket and a whole range of additional quests around Theramore and Brackenwall.  At the time this was pretty much a mea culpa from Blizzard that old STV might be a bit more of a pain than the expected.

And then came the Cataclysm.  The zone was split into two, with the top half becoming Northern Stranglethorn Vale and the bottom becoming the Cape of Stranglethorn, which strikes me a bit like having North Carolina and the Carolina Strand as states… you tend to call out “north” only if there is a “south” right… but then the whole continent is called The Eastern Kingdoms, which is a vague, hand waving description more than a name in my opinion, so my problems with the geographic naming conventions of Azeroth are long standing.

I had already wrapped up the Northern Stranglethorn achievement with my warrior, Makarov, way back in March of last year when I was back in the game on a seven day pass and still not over my post-Cataclysm malaise.

Northern Stranglethorn Vale

Northern Stranglethorn Vale

But for whatever reason, Makarov moved on to the Plaguelands (of which there is an East and a West, so there), leaving the Cape of Stranglethorn untouched.  And so it remained, until I decided to go for the Loremaster achievement this summer.

More after the cut.

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Winterspring, Swamp of Sorrows, and The Blasted Lands

My summer Loremaster project moved its first character out of vanilla WoW… well, post-Cataclysm vanilla WoW… or whatever we want to call the 1-60 part of the game these days… and into The Burning Crusade content.  Trianis, my night elf rogue, started off on these three zones at level 53, but by the time he finished up the last one he was level 61 and ready to go through the dark portal and into the Hellfire Peninsula.

Looking out from the Portal

Looking out from the Portal

Last time around he had finished up Felwood, run through the Timbermaw tunnel, and had emerged into Winterspring.  Taking that on was just the natural progression, so in I went.

Winterspring

Winterspring Map

Winterspring Map

More after the cut.

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Felwood and Un’goro Crater

I like having a goal, but I don’t want a friggin’ mortgage!

-Piacenza, on hearing about my Loremaster aspirations

The run for the loremaster achievement continues, though I am starting to feel a bit of the weight behind the task at this point.  I keep thinking “I am almost done with Kalimdor!” forgetting how much else was on the list.

And being done with Kalimdor got two zones closer since I last wrote on the topic.

After finishing up Thousand Needles I sent my rogue, Trianis, up north to Ashenvale again so he could make the run to Felwood, the next unfinished zone on the list.

Felwood Map

Felwood Map

Felwood, another long, narrow zone, wedged in between Darkshore and Mount Hyjal.  Oddly, Mount Hyjal has always been there on the map as I recall, though it only became an accessible zone with the advent of the Cataclysm expansion. (There is a good description of the old version of the zone, including the original map, over at Giant Bomb.  I only found that after I wrote 90% of this post.)  It had been a long, long time since I stalked the length of Felwood.

More after the cut.  Many words.

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Desolace, Feralas, and Thousand Needles

The Loremaster summer project continues.  I think I have been able to carry on with it as I have in part because of the nature of a quest driven goal.  It is very easy to log on, advance through some quests, then go away, only to pick things up again later.  And then there is the whole tourist aspect of running through zones to see how they have changed since back in the day.  That works well now, but once I advance into Outland and The Burning Crusade content, things having changed won’t be part of the picture.

Anyway, since last time I have managed to pop through three more zones with my rogue, starting with Desolace.

Desolace Map

Desolace Map

I apparently have to open each of these zone descriptions with a statement about not having fond memories.  So much Kalimdor hate.  I think, deep down, I resent that Kalimdor has a name, while The Eastern Kingdoms is just a description.

My earliest memory of Desolace involves running.  This is a mid-30s zone, so back in the day it might have been one of the last you went through before you got a mount.  I remember running from Ratchet in The Barrens through the Stonetalon Mountains, to Desolace, and realizing that the trip took me nearly 45 minutes.  That is almost an early EverQuest length cross-continent trip.  And then once you got there, you ended up running all over the zone again and again.  I particularly remember that skeleton infested canyon down in the south end of the zone.

Now though, there are several flight points in the zone, you get a mount at level 20 so you don’t have to run, and upon entering the zone, you even get a free lift to Nijel’s Point, the Alliance base in the zone.

Why walk when you can fly?

Why walk when you can fly?

The zone itself, despite being one of the featured “changed” zones for the Cataclysm expansion, hasn’t changed as much as you might think.  Yes, there is the big green patch in the middle now, and you spend more time with the nagas and less time with the centaurs (and that “choose a faction” deal is all history), but as a whole it still has something of the same feel it had for me.  And, for the most part, the quest chains have been tightened up and improved.  There are fewer “just go kill some things” quests, though a few of the old ones still linger at the start of the zone.   And there are the requisite vehicle quests, which I often find a pleasant change.

Centaur as vehicle

Centaur as vehicle

The zone also feels a bit more tied together with a story.  Cataclysm might not have added any new zones that I really like, but if you wanted zones to feel more cohesive in terms of story, you got that at least.

The zone ends up with a minor boss fight that uses a creature model from The Burning Crusade if I recall right.

Was she ever in vanilla

Was she ever in vanilla?

Nicely, I got the quests achievement just as I was wrapping up the last few quests in the zone, so I did not have to trace back my steps to find the missing quest.

DesoQuestAchi

That put me on the road south out of the zone and into Feralas.  Though first I had to head back to Darnassus, as I also hit level 40 at the end of Desolace, so I was due for a mount upgrade.  But then it was off to the green zone of Feralas.

Feralas Map

Feralas Map

Of Cataclysm updated zones I have been through far, Feralas has seen the least changes.  The zone is pretty much intact from pre-Cataclysm days.  Yes, the west coast and Sardor Island were damaged, there are more flight points, and the storyline there has changed, but a fair number of the old quests remain.  You will go hunting for yeti pelts.

But other aspects have been trimmed quite dramatically.  You are flown out to Sardor Island for a couple of quests that barely last long enough for you to make a Thomas the Tank Engine reference before you are winging your way back to the mainland.

Farewell Thomas!

Farewell Thomas!

The majority of the quests are concentrated in the stretch of land between Feathermoon and Camp Mojache, the Horde base that straddles the main road through the zone.  As is custom, I managed to wander into range of the Camp Mojache NPCs and get myself killed.

I did run into one quest issue.  I do not think the quest was bugged, but I could not figure out how to get Might of the Sentinels to complete.  I gave it a couple of tries, dropping it and picking it back up again, but it never wrapped up for me.  So I kept it in my quest log to return to if I needed one more quest to finish the zone.  The quest itself is memorable in that it features a globe of Azeroth, which seems to be missing Northrend.

The globe in Feralas

The globe in Feralas

As it turned out, the quest was not on the main thread through the zone and I ended up at New Thalanaar just two quests shy of the 40 needed, and there were four quests waiting for me at that end, so I was able to get the achievement without having to return for the unfinished quest.

FeraQuestAchi

Which put me on the boat to Thousand Needles.  Literally.

When you wrap up at the eastern end of Feralas the lead-in quest puts you on a boat that runs you through most of the zone… submerged in water since Cataclysm… out to Fizzle and Pozzik’s Speedbarge.

Thousand Needles Map

Thousand Needles Map

If you can question how much Desolace and Feralas really changed with Cataclysm, with Thousand Needles it would be tough to find much that remained the same.  Once a dry, desert area of tall mesas and a salt flat that was home to the Mirage Raceway, the whole thing is now a lake, and the speedbarge, floating in the middle of it, is the first quest hub.  Occupied by goblins and gnomes who have an uneasy truce, you end up helping them secure themselves from the pirates on the east coast of the lake.  Oh, and you salvage things for them.

The one quest that remains from the old days of Thousand Needles involves salvaging rocket car parts.  You only need to find 10 now, as opposed to 30 back in the day, but they are the same parts strewn about the same raceway.  It is just under water now.

Once I ran a raceway...

Once I ran a raceway…

Water is the focus of the first half of the quest chain in the zone.  Fortunately, they give you underwater breathing so your many ventures at the bottom of the lake that is Thousand Needles are a little easier to deal with.  You also get a boat.

On a boat yeah...

On a boat yeah…

This is your zone-specific mount for Thousand Needles.  And while I had the azure water strider, the water walking mount, to get around on, the boat seemed to be faster.  I was passed by a couple of people.  That included Horde players, because Thousand Needles looks like the point where the Alliance and Horde quest lines unite.  The achievements for previous zones were separate for Alliance and Horde.  From Thousand Needles forward both sides get the same achievement.

There is much to be zone around the speedbarge.  As I mentioned, there is salvage and pirates, plus some more centaurs who are sitting on some oil reserves that the combined gnome/goblin forces want to exploit.  And there are plenty of sights to see.

That is a big, dead whale shark

That is a big, dead whale shark

Eventually, about 30 quests in, the speedbarge quest chain runs out and you are done there.  That puts you at the half way mark for the quest achievement.  Fizzle gives you one more quest, which sends you back up the lake towards Freewind post.  There, the war against the Grimtotem tauren commences… though I could have sworn the Alliance was supporting them back in the Stonetalon Mountains quest chain.  You end up fighting across the various mesas and then across the south bank of the lake from Highperch, where you free some adorable baby pridelings, down to Twilight Withering.

A dozen pridelings in tow

A dozen pridelings in tow

The quest chain on the mesas includes an NPC tagging along for the whole trip, so as a rogue you want to stealth past things, but you have this fully visible dolt next to you who might as well be shouting, “Hey, are you being stealthy? That is sooo cool! I can barely see you sneaking up on that Grimtoten warrior!  Hey, warrior, can you see my friend here?”

Still, she was a good fighter as well as being a mobile quest dispenser, so at least I did not have to do a lot of back and forth to advance the quest chain.  Along the south bank you lose your NPC shadow and the situation becomes ideal for a rogue.  There are a number of quests where you can just slip on past all the bad guys and ambush the one guy you want.  I ran down the quest chain and hit the 60 quest mark only a couple quests shy of being done.  Again, excess quests, so no need to go back and find quests I missed.

Achievement and level

Achievement and level

I also hit level 47 with that turn-in.  I ran down the last couple of quests, which ended up back on the speedbarge, where Fizzle gave me a nice blue item.  In addition to going for the quest achievements, I have also done the whole thing so far with gear from quests or drops.  Every time I think I might want to buy a new weapon, I go look at the auction house and the prices drive me away.  My sense of value in the game has not kept up with inflation I am sure, but I still don’t think 300+ gold for a level 50-ish weapon that my character will out grown quickly is a good deal.  I am tempted to just get him an heirloom dagger this weekend when Darkmoon Faire pops again.

The final quest pointed me towards Tanaris.  But I already have the quest achievement for Tanaris via my monk, who is almost ready to wrap up Un’goro Crater as well.  So my rogue will be heading to Felwood next and then to Winterspring.  And when those two are out of the way, I will only have the Draeni starting zone, Bloodmyst Isle on my list for Kalimdor.  I had originally thought I would roll up a Draeni to run that… in fact, I already rolled him up… but with only that zone on the list, I might just go back and twink it with the rogue.  Or maybe not.  I still have a bunch of work in the Easter Kingdoms before I move on to Outland and The Burning Crusade zones.