Being the dedicated achievement hunter that I was and am (why else would I be writing this column?), I worked tirelessly on all the requirements for What A Long Strange Trip It's Been when the achievement system debuted in patch 3.0.2. This even extended to planning months in advance for the Brewmaster title before achievements even hit the game. My efforts were coming along quite nicely until Children's Week, when an unstoppable force (me) hit an immovable object (School of Hard Knocks) -- and physics being less predictable than our teachers led us to believe, it turns out that bodies in motion do not always remain so.
For an entire year, the only thing that stood between me and that purple proto-drake was that one damn achievement. And every year, I return to this guide and flinch at having to think of it again. So let's do this, folks, and then we shall speak no more of it for another year. This is actually a great and fantastically fun holiday, with the exception of that one thing.
The Children's Week achievements and the meta For The Children are part of the year-long What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been, so you will want to get these done if you're working toward a Violet Proto-Drake. This year the holiday runs from Sunday, April 29 to Saturday, May 5.
Home Alone is very easy. Simply use your hearthstone while you have an orphan out, and you'll have the achievement. If you're a true sadist, you can get your orphans stranded in such amusing locales as the Eastern Plaguelands, Tol Barad mid-battle, on top of a frozen mountain peak in the Storm Peaks or Winterspring, or (best yet) underwater in Vashj'ir. Not that I endorse this; I'm just saying you can.
This achievement's been bugged in years past -- players would get then lose it after logging to other characters -- so don't freak out if that happens again. Blizzard's usually quick with the hotfixes.
I've listed where and how you can find the necessary sweets for Bad Example, below. Just don't forget to have your orphan out before you sit down to some expensive treats. Experienced cooks with at least 350 skill are likely to find this achievement both easier and cheaper than others:
- Tigule and Foror's Strawberry Ice Cream You can actually find this in quite a few places these days, but the easiest will likely be the Stormwind and Orgrimmar Children's Week vendors: Emmithue Smails for the Alliance and Alowicious Czervik for the Horde. You'll find in their respective cities' central business districts. If you're leveling a character in Outland, you may find it more convenient to purchase the ice cream from your faction's innkeeper in Nagrand. You've also been able to find it on a vendor at the Shimmering Flats racetrack in Thousand Needles, which is now ... uh, underwater. Fear not: Brivelthwerp peddles the ice cream these days from a boat at 69, 85. Lisa McKeever always sells it in Stormwind, as do the snack machines located on Horde zeppelins.
- Red Velvet Cupcake Sold by Aimee, the Dalaran pastry vendor located outside the city's north bank at 51, 27.
- Dalaran Brownie Sold by Aimee.
- Dalaran Doughnut Sold by Aimee.
- Lovely Cake Sold by Aimee. In order to get the Lovely Cake Slice you need, right-click the cake to set it down somewhere on the ground. You'll then be able to right-click it again and take a slice of this somewhat expensive cake.
- Tasty Cupcake Created by cooking and requiring 350 skill, or you can always look on the Auction House, since enterprising players will certainly be selling them, albeit for high prices, during the holiday. Requires two Simple Flour (purchased from any cooking supplier) and one Northern Egg per cupcake. If you're not willing to pay what are sure to be highly inflated prices on the Auction House for eggs, you can easily get them off most bird mobs in Northrend.
- Delicious Chocolate Cake The Delicious Chocolate Cake recipe is a random reward from cooking dailies. Most dedicated chefs are already likely to have the recipe, which requires 1 cooking skill and eight Simple Flour, four Ice Cold Milk, four Mild Spices, eight Small Eggs, one Flask of Port and three Mageroyal. If you don't have the recipe or the inclination to farm up the materials, you'll probably find some cakes on the Auction House, but like the Tasty Cupcake, they are likely to be very expensive.
Daily Chores was once an achievement requiring you to do at least one daily every day for five days, but Blizzard hotfixed it to its more forgiving form. Just have your orphan out as you turn in five daily quests, and you'll get it. You don't even need to have your orphan out while you're doing the quests -- he just has to be around when you hand the quests in to the quest giver. Which quest/s you select won't matter, so just do whatever dailies you're already doing or whatever's most convenient for you.
Aw, Isn't It Cute?
Aw, Isn't It Cute? is very easy and fun to get. Each of the Azeroth, Outland and Northrend Children's Week quest lines will reward you with your pick of noncombat pets at the end, and all you have to do is learn one. The quest lines themselves are very straightforward.
In answer to a question I've gotten a few times whenever the holiday rolls around -- yes, you can get more than one Children's Week pet each year. The catch is that you can get only one from each series of quests. So you have to pick between:
- Piglet's Collar, the Rat Cage, the Turtle Box, and the Snail Shell (new in 2011) from the classic Azeroth quests.
- Elekk Training Collar, Egbert's Egg, Sleepy Willy, and Legs (new in 2011) from the Outland quests.
- The Curious Wolvar Pup and Curious Oracle Hatchling in Northrend.
Hail To The King, Baby
Hail To The King, Baby was somewhat easier during Wrath of the Lich King with tons of players already running Utgarde Pinnacle, but let's face it -- at level 85, you should be able to stomp the place with a friend or two, particularly because it doesn't matter whether you kill Ymiron on normal or heroic. Either way, don't forget to have your orphan out before you pull him.
School of Hard Knocks
Evil, evil, evil.
I do not like School of Hard Knocks, and I'm not alone in that. For the length of Children's Week, School of Hard Knocks turns Battlegrounds into an an every-man-for-himself bonanza ruining gameplay. Even the achievement's defenders admit it's something to be endured rather than enjoyed.
School of Hard Knocks requires you to return a Warsong Gulch flag, assault a node in Arathi Basin, assault a tower in Alterac Valley, and cap a flag in Eye of the Storm -- all with an orphan out. That's all very well and good, and all four objectives are routine for these Battlegrounds, but legions of individual players all trying to do them at the same time rather than splitting to different objectives (you know, in the interests of teamwork) results in an unhappy mess.
The fastest way to accomplish all four objectives is to form a premade with like-minded players and take turns protecting each other while everyone gets the objectives done. Failing that, the only way to do this is to keep queuing and trying -- over and over and over again until, wonder of wonders, you're the first person to click your faction's flag in Warsong Gulch or survive the mad dash to a tower in Alterac Valley. Honestly, there's no grand strategy here, and you definitely will not hear from me that it's usually better to hang back and wait until other folks are fighting around the objectives, so you can go click them yourself while they're in combat and can't do anything about them. No sir, you will not hear any encouragement from me ... merely an observation that this works.
As of 2012, there are two things that make this achievement more bearable:
- Help from unexpected places Because the Battlegrounds have historically been flooded with players desperate to get this achievement done, you'll sometimes get lucky with a We're all in this together attitude on the part of opposing players. Sympathetic players will cap and recap nodes for enemies with children out, and Warsong Gulch flag carriers will often voluntarily drop flags for you. You will probably get at least one or two of the achievement's objectives this way.
- Reduced competition So many main characters already have the meta that there isn't anywhere near the level of competition that existed in the first years after the achievement system went live. This is not to say you won't have any competition, but you're unlikely to hit a random Battleground and find your entire team with orphans out.
Either way, I think this is a poorly designed achievement. It makes PvE players miserable because they don't want to do Battlegrounds anyway, and it introduces Battlegrounds to newcomers in the worst way possible. It makes PvP players miserable because it ruins teamwork and strategy for the length of Children's Week. I am a big fan of Blizzard's achievement system, but if you want to encourage more people to play and enjoy Battlegrounds, this isn't the way to do it.
Veteran Nanny is not required for the meta, so don't worry about it unless you've been playing for a while. Players with two of the three Outland Children's Week pets can snag themselves a cool 50 achievement points by simply grabbing whichever noncombat pet they haven't picked in years past. Please note that Legs, who was added last year, is not a requirement either.
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.