I've written about my likes and dislikes in regards to WoW holiday events before, but with Love is in the Air and the Lunar Festival overlapping awkwardly this year and sending achievaholics from one frenzy into the next, I wanted to talk about my experiences with those two holidays this year in particular.
For starters, I was a little surprised by just how utterly blasé I felt about the Valentine's event this year. Last year I wasn't overly fond of it, what with the high dependence on the random number generator and all the useless items clogging up my inventory, but I wanted to give the achievements a go at the time and ended up having a reasonable amount of fun. I pretty much expected that I wouldn't be able to work up the same amount of enthusiasm this year, but I figured that I might still feel inspired to at least get a fun achievement or two on one of my alts. Nope.
For one thing I couldn't help but notice that they completely revamped the holiday, which I found entirely unappealing. Instead of hoping for some luck with the random number generator while hanging out in a city, you were now supposed to grind mobs for lovely charm bracelets. Now, I agree that placing too much importance on luck with the RNG was a bad idea before, but frankly I think that replacing everything random with a reliable but boring grind isn't really any better.
We all know the downsides of making anything in the game a lottery, but we tend to forget about the advantages these days. The thing with randomness is that it encourages casual participation. This is why my rarely played level sixteen mage alt has a Sinister Squashling for example. I logged onto him during Hallow's End to check his mail one day and figured that I had nothing to lose by playing trick or treat with the innkeeper. I didn't feel cheated even when he gave me nothing. But If he had asked me to go and gather a hundred pumpkins instead I wouldn't have bothered at all, regardless of what rewards were given out, because grinding is "serious business" that I do for reputations and the like, not for a bit of fun distraction.
I suppose that's not necessarily a flaw in the system, if Blizzard wants to cater towards the people for whom things like gathering holiday achievements is actually a primary focus of their game. Personally however I never considered them more than a little distraction, and I don't care for having to invest too much time into these things. Thus, with no option to just have a little bit of Love is in the Air fun on the spot, I didn't participate at all this year, not even on my alts.
You wouldn't know it from looking at my armoury by the way, because Blizzard actually retconned the achievements, which to me is one of the most bizarre things ever. So I now have achievements for all kinds of things that I never did (create lovely charm braclets, do the associated dailies etc.), dated at a point when these things didn't even exist yet. Way to go. I thought achievements were supposed to show off what I, you know, actually achieved in the game? I don't know why they couldn't just turn the things I originally had to do for my Love Fool title into feats of strength or something and then just add the new achievements to replace them. Somehow the armoury making claims about me doing things that I haven't actually done makes me feel vaguely violated.
And I didn't even try the new seasonal boss in Shadowfang Keep once. I was mildly tempted because I just wanted to see what the fight was like, but in the end I have to admit that the dungeon finder has simply made me too lazy. I can be teleported to my next two frost emblems instantly, but just to look at the newest seasonal boss I'd have to manually drag myself all the way to SFK and spam general chat looking for a group? Screw that.
Plus I think that seasonal bosses are generally overrated. When the Headless Horseman first came out I was excited simply because of the novelty value, but the way people felt the need to grind him and other seasonal bosses over and over again for rare drops was simply mind-numbingly stupid. I remember standing in the graveyard of the Scarlet Monastery, with the whole ground being covered in decapitated horsemen, while we summoned in the fifth alt of one of our dpsers to get yet another chance at killing him. There is repetition, and then there's killing the same guy twenty times in a row in rapid succession. Hopefully that is something that will get better with the changes coming in the next patch. But yeah, the thought that wanting to have even a brief look at the Valentine's boss would likely require me to kill him at least five times in a row right then and there was off-putting enough for me to not even try.
So that madness passed me by, getting nothing but a sneer from me and maybe a wistful sigh about how things were much better back in the day. Along comes the Lunar Festival, an event that many deride as boring, and I love it. I'm not sure if I'll actually manage to reach my tentative goal of getting the Elder title for my shaman, but even if I don't I won't feel that I wasted my time because I enjoyed doing what I did. I like how the Lunar Festival is one of those festivals that doesn't make you do completely random crap just for the sake of it. Like, you know, run over dwarfs in the name of love. It's a festival to honour the elders, and the goal is (mostly) to actually visit the spirits of elders. Shocking!
Also, maybe it's my inner explorer, but I really like seasonal events that encourage me to visit parts of the world that I haven't been to for a while. Navigating the cliffs of Azshara, riding down the length of the Barrens... when you're not in a hurry to get from point A to B those things can actually make for quite pleasant and relaxing activities, especially if you're good at multitasking: You can watch tv on the side, complete various exploration achievements while you're in the area, do a random little quest that you missed before or do a bit of old world material gathering.
My personal favourite bonus activity while visiting the elders is currently what I'd call "rare spotting". I recently installed an addon called SilverDragon, which gives you the equivalent of a polite little cough if you run right past a rare mob without noticing it. "Ahem, didn't you miss something there?" I haven't got much use out of it in Outland and Northrend, presumably because the rares are highly sought after by achievement hunters and thus often dead, but the old world is chock full of weirdly named mobs that nobody seems to care about, and that I like to discover simply because it makes me go "oo". While crossing Felwood alone I ran into no less than five rare mobs, which don't even all show up on wowhead. Named oozes? Whatever will they think of next?