Okay, we’re not a PVP blog. Nor are we an achievement blog. We don’t even play one on TV. That said, we’ve heard a ton of complaints from both readers and friends regarding the School of Hard Knocks achievement that is part of the Children’s Week meta-achievement. Earlier today all of the WoWenomics team members completed the hard knocks achievement and we did it on different servers with PUG groups. Naturally, we’ve figured out our own tricks to efficiently complete this (agreeably challenging) PVP component to an otherwise easy holiday event. It is these tips and tricks that we will share with you now.
First of all, it should be noted that all of the WoWenomics team members are in agreement that this achievement will be removed from the meta-achievement required to attain the Long Strange Trip achievement. It is simply of a different degree of difficulty to most players than the other holiday achievements. Blizzard has already stated that they believe that “…all of the goals listed are actually fairly simple to accomplish.” And we know that statement absolutely enrages some players (a look at the official forums confirms). All this is to say that, for now anyway, it is probably best to assume that the requirement will remain.
Breaking Down the Battlegrounds
- Alterac Valley (Assault a tower)- This one is a big race to a tower. Ideally, you’ve got any skills or items to increase your riding speed increased at your disposal. Once you get into a tower consider using some of the tools of the trade mentioned below. Beyond that, the best way to win the race to a tower is to get a head start. Start auto-running at the gate before it opens. If you’re on the alliance side you can take the high path while others follow the road. This route (behind the tree to the left of the path where it starts to go downhill) takes some skill and practice to get used to but can save you a few seconds in the race if executed correctly. Note, if you don’t have a speed enhancement of some kind it will be more beneficial to stick with the group assuming someone’s got a group riding speed buff up.
- Arathi Basin (Assault a base flag)- This is probably the easiest of all the BG requirements. Simply be the first to assault a base flag. Note that you’ll have to complete the flag capture to get credit. This doesn’t mean you have to wait for the base to cap, only that you have to complete the flag capture process. For this reason, we do not advise going for the blacksmith unless you’re very fast or have teammates that can and will keep your opponents off of you. To give yourself a head start, pop out your orphan, mount up and begin auto-running into the gate before it opens. You’d be surprised how much of a head start this gives you. There are certain class skills that can also help. For example, a mage can put slow fall on the group and this group can jump off the cliff to the flag at the gold mine or a death knight could put the water walking buff on a group who could then race across any water and directly to the blacksmith. Anything helps here although the easiest way is to go straight to the flag closest to your base (although that’s also the flag with the most competition).
- Eye of the Storm (Capture a flag)- Here’s where you need the speed tools from the list below. After gaining control of the middle, flag-spawning area, you’ve got to be the first to click the flag and complete the flag attainment process and return it to a friendly base. Any damage you take will interrupt the attainment of the flag. The best way to insure that you are the one with the flag is to begin clicking the space where it will appear just after the flag is capped by either team. A few practice runs and you’ll perfect exactly where it spawns. Note, everyone running straight for the flag is not a good idea as the opposition will take all the bases (since they start off neutral and must be capped) and you’ll have no where to take the flag if you get it.
- Warsong Gulch (Return a flag)- This one can be tricky. You’ve got to be the person to return a flag to your base after it is captured. Try clicking right above the head of the opposing team’s flag carrier right before he dies. And, for God’s sake people, kill (or stun) the darn healers first or that flag carrier will never die!
- For all BGs- consider going in pre-made. By far, the best way to get all the achievements done is to go in with a pre-made group (ideally guildmates or friends) and take turns completing the various tasks.
Tools of the Trade
These items are all standard issue to regular PVPers. You might want to use them yourself if your class’s skills don’t have any of the abilities they grant.
- Turbo boost- there are various consumables, items and trinkets that will boost your run speed. Use them. Consider using them one after another in cases where there is not a shared cool down. The situational need for a speed boost should be obvious and, if it’s not, it will become so after an attempt or two.
- Flask of Chromatic Wonder- This is our favorite PVP flask because it adds to our resistance while boosting all stats. Both of these functions are helpful for PVP. Generally you don’t want to use elixirs for buffs in PVP, as it can get expensive as the deaths stack up.
- Small mount- this is not the time for the mammoth. You want to be harder to hit and that means being smaller. Clickers will have a harder time hitting you if you lower your size. Further, you’ll be harder to see. It’s a small thing (lame pun intended), but every bit counts.
- Invisibility potions- if you’re class cannot stealth, you’ll want a couple of these in your inventory and on your hot bar. They’re perfect for sneaking by AV turtles or past tower defenses. Just remember that any damage will take away the buff so avoid AoE spells on your way to your goal.
- Nets, snags and snares- both engineers and tailors can use their professions to create snares. Almost every class can stun or snare an opponent in some way. Use these tools to your advantage and cap the flag first, then fight.
Dirty Tricks (we don’t endorse these tricks but we’ve seen them used and can confirm that they work-use at the risk of your reputation and karma)
- Let someone else do the work- The most common tactic, if you can even call it that, is to simply let others do the bulk of the work. In our quest to complete this achievement we repeatedly observed players doing things like waiting for others to fight with tower guards or flag carrying opposing players and then sneak in at the last minute and take the cap. If you’re a good PVPer you don’t need to do this but this is the result of ‘forcing’ non-PVPers into the battlegrounds.
- Multi-queue- If you want to get in and out and be done with this achievement ASAP the Multi-queue can help. This is where you queue for several battlegrounds at once. The best use of it here is to do AB and AV at the same time. Queue for Arathi Basin and as wait for the invite to come up. Wait until you’ve got less than 30 seconds on the timer to join and then sign up for Alterac Valley. This should give you just enough time to get into AB, race to a flag and cap it. As soon as the invite for AV pops, take it and start that one.
- Protecting the competition- Now this is a genuine dirty tactic but we observed a few players doing it during our runs today. You can’t cap a flag if you’re immune. If you have some form of immunity that you can put on another player (such as a Palli’s Hand of Protection) and you find yourself about to lose out on the flag cap because they are just in front of you, apply the buff to them and they won’t be able to cap. Again, we don’t recommend this as it can really piss people off but, if nothing else, it is helpful to be aware of this tactic in the event it is used against you in which case just be prepared to click the buff off.
- Trade achievements with the opposing team- One of our team members reported being in a WSG match today where it seemed players were trading off opportunities to take and then drop and return the opposing team’s flags. Our team member said that at one point he took the opposing team’s flag and tried to return it and was yelled at by his own teammates who wanted him to drop it and let the other side have it back for the credit. They went as far as to stand by and let our friend die when he tried to return it. While the other ‘dirty tricks’ above are bad ideas because they’re, perhaps, morally wrong, this one is just plain cheating and violates the ToS. Our WoWenomics team member’s subsequent conversation with a GM on the matter confirms this. Don’t do it. Play the game to the best of your ability and you’ll get it done eventually.
One Final Tip
Don’t forget to have your little orphan out when you complete a BG achievement. Nothing is more frustrating than forgetting this simple step and not getting credit.