Perhaps today's title is a bit misleading, so allow me to get to the point: These are all really frakking expensive achievements.
We talked about this two years ago in OverAchiever: Straight to the poorhouse, and everything on that list is still valid with the exception of Dual Talent Specialization (once 1,000 gold and now 10). Back then, my criterion for what constituted an expensive achievement was anything that cost 1,000 gold or more. These days, there are even more ways to empty your wallet in pursuit of points, but I have to wonder: Is 1,000 gold a lot these days? It's still a lot of gold, but is it a lot of gold? That's up to you. I think it's just enough for most players to consider something a serious, if not necessarily crippling, purchase. But don't worry: If you're looking for crippling purchases, I've got those here too.
This list won't necessarily cover every expensive pursuit in the game for the simple reason that not all of them are achievements, but if you've been sitting on a pile of gold wondering what to do with it, why not go get yourself some extra points? Who doesn't love suddenly finding themselves bereft of funds?
General achievements are -- by far -- going to be the biggest drains on your bank account. While reputation affects many of them, you will not be able to significantly reduce most of the costs associated with these. Too bad most of them are pretty cool ...
- The Right Stuff and Breaking The Sound Barrier The Right Stuff was featured in our January 2010 list, and two years later, it's still among the most expensive achievements in the game. These days it's been joined by an equally expensive riding achievement, as 310% flight is now buyable and no longer linked to possession of a gladiator or raiding mount. Both achievements will run you 5,000 gold (4,000 if you're exalted with the faction of the trainer), but if you're willing to put the work in, you can get 310% flying for free from What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been.
- Get to the Choppa! This may or may not be a more expensive achievement these days than it used to be, and how much this will run you depends on your server's economy and how friendly you find the local engineers. First off, you need to find an engineer who's exalted with the Alliance Vanguard/Horde Expedition and has bought the recipe from the quartermaster. The Salvaged Iron Golem Parts, the Goblin-machined Piston, and the Elementium-plated Exhaust Pipe all have to be bought from Roxi Ramrocket in K3 for the princely sum of 12,500 gold, unless you can convince an engineer to accompany you to Ulduar and "skin" mechanical mobs for the parts. (However, they're not guaranteed to get the exact parts they need doing so. Sorry!) The expense of the other materials -- 12 Titansteel bars, 40 Handful of Cobalt Bolts, and two Arctic Furs -- is probably going to vary wildly by server. Good luck.
- Littlest Pet Shop OK, this one is technically doable without shelling out a ton of money (and either way, it's mostly the time investment that wil concern you), but very few people are going to make it to 150 pets without having suffered extreme monetary agony along the way. You'll probably be shelling out the hundreds of gold needed for pets like the Crimson Lasher and Hyjal Bear Cub anyway, but the total price tag is going to skyrocket once you add rare dropped pets like the Disgusting Oozeling and cross-faction Argent Tournament pets. Oh, and if you want to be really poor? The grandaddy of all pants-splitting, soul-killing expenses would have to be the Hyacinth Macaw. While it's slightly more common than it used to be (wonder of wonders, it's a very rare drop in the Satchel of Exotic Mysteries), I have yet to see this thing retail for less than 45,000 gold on my own realm.
- Mountain o' Mounts In the exact same vein is Mountain o' Mounts. You can avoid some expensive mounts (like the Grand Ice Mammoth and Traveler's Tundra Mammoth that you'll find elsewhere on this list), but you won't be able to avoid all of them, or the cumulative cost of less-expensive mounts.
- My Sack is "Gigantique" I feel like I still have to include this one, because it'll run you 1,200 gold. While not as scary as it used to be, that's still a pretty decent amount for a 22-slot bag that could be just as easily replaced by the green-quality Embersilk Bag in Cataclysm.
- Ring of the Kirin Tor This is another expensive achievement that's lost its luster as the game has progressed. If your ultimate aim is to be able to access Northrend as quickly as possible, it won't cost you anything but time to get an Argent Crusader's Tabard, whereas any one of the Kirin Tor rings will run you 6,800 gold at exalted. But who am I to quibble with another 10 points?
- Traveler's Tundra Mammoth This continues to cost 16,000 gold assuming you're exalted with the Kirin Tor (and you should be -- it'll reduce the price of both the mammoth and the ring above). While I waffled over whether or not I wanted this back in Wrath, once I got over the sticker shock, I never wound up regretting the purchase. My main is not an engineer, and being able to pull out a mount with a repairman and a vendor anywhere I like has saved an unbelievable amount of time. Sadly, there have not been updates to the vendors since Wrath, so you won't be able to buy level 85 food/drink from them.
- Vial of the Sands This is Cataclysm's answer to Wrath's Tundra Mammoth and motorcycles. Actually, it's kind of like the whole issue with the motorcycle on steroids. Not only will an alchemist have to find the recipe randomly in a Canopic Jar (obtainable only from tol'vir archaeology, itself a rat's nest of epic proportions), but he/she will also have to blow through 29,000 gold to get the Pyrium-Laced Crystalline Vial and eight Sands of Time from Yasmin in northwestern Uldum. While goblin characters were once able to get discounts on these with the racial Best Deals Anywhere, that loophole's long been closed. Oh, and don't forget the 12 Truegold, eight Flask of the Winds, eight Flask of Titanic Strength, and eight Deepstone Oil you'll need too. Have fun with that!
There are no expensive quest-related achievements, although you will pick up some points for The Bread Winner and Justly Rewarded.
There are no expensive exploration-related achievements, unless you count all the money you don't make in the time it takes to kite a Whale Shark around. (Granted, you could always get help. Quitter.)
Player vs. player achievements
There are no expensive PvP-related achievements.
Dungeon and raid achievements
Unless you count all the consumables and repair bills you're likely to blow through for difficult raiding achievements and heroic-mode raids, there are no expensive dungeon or raid-related achievements.
Silly rabbit, professions make money. Unless you're leveling them. Especially jewelcrafting.
Oh, I just made myself sad.
- Preparing for Disaster While I'm trying to bypass what might be called opportunity cost achievements (i.e., you lost money in the sense that you weren't out making it while chasing critters for, say, To All the Squirrels Who Cared For Me), this one is impossible to ignore. Some 1,500 pieces of Embersilk Cloth -- whether you got it as drops, bought it on the Auction House, or bought it off the justice or honor trade goods vendor -- represents a lot of gold that you're now sinking into the number of bandages typically required to keep the Mayo Clinic running for a year. If you're a DPS class with a bandage fetish, you might be able to use all of them before the end of the expansion, but for the rest of us, it's just an enormous pile of Embersilk for which you have no earthly use. Stocking Up is in the same vein, though its expense (and lost opportunity) will vary according to the price of Frostweave Cloth on your realm.
Most reputation achievements depend entirely on time investment and not money. There are two that don't, and both are mount-related. At least they'll count toward Mountain o' Mounts, right?
- Cenarion War Hippogryph You'll have to be exalted with the Cenarion Expedition in Outland to get this, and once you are, it'll run you 1,600 gold.
- Grand Ice Mammoth The three-person mount available from the Sons of Hodir won't come cheap. At exalted, you'll be shelling out 8,000 gold.
There are no expensive achievements related to the in-game holidays or lesser celebrations, just the soul-rending but ultimately inexpensive despair of everyone saddled with School of Hard Knocks.
Feats of Strength
By their very nature, the feats don't really lend themselves to expenses of any kind. There are some, such as Hero of Shattrath, from which you can amass a considerable bill if you're trolling the Auction House or paying people off for turn-ins like the Dreadfang Venom Sacs, but that's about it. The only potential expense I can think of related to other feats might be paying a raid not to roll in the event that Invincible/Mimiron's Head drops on a heroic Lich King/Ulduar run (I've seen it happen), but that's kind of reaching.
Enjoy working on achievements? The Overachiever is here to help! Count on us for advice on patch 4.3 achievements, our guide to Mountain O' Mounts, and a good, hard look at what's wrong with archaeology and how Blizzard could fix it.