I don’t often want to blog about WoW holidays because, by and large, I don’t really enjoy them that much and usually avoid them. Before you yell “Scrooge!” (or some twisted, fiery phantom thereof), consider that the vast majority of WoW holidays are actually pretty punishing affairs if you’re already busy doing “normal” in-game things, because:
- You’ve no reason to stop doing your normal activities – e.g. if you’re farming frost emblems you need to keep farming frost emblems
- But you suddenly have a whole bunch of extra things to do too, some of which can be very time-consuming, frustrating or just downright bizarre.
Bullet points are great.
Of course the answer to the second point there is just not to do those things which you don’t have time/energy/inclination to do, and that is, actually, what I very sensibly do. How sensible I am. Yet I’m aware that stoic non-participation sort of defeats the purpose of what’s meant to be a fun and different way to spend some time in a familiar environment that encourages (or discourages) extra socialising.
Not Midsummer! I like Midsummer. Actually it’s a festival that I think would make a lot of sense in “the real world” because it’s so delightfully honest and simple: it’s hot and that’s kinda cool (um… yeah, whatever, let’s move on) so let’s celebrate how hot it is with lots of hot stuff like fire. Lots of fire. And then maybe we’ll go to a big dank cave underneath a big dank marsh and fight a big frozen ice lord guy because we can. (Admittedly that’d be harder to pull off in modern Britain, but we could always have a go.)
It’s also one of the easier and more rewarding holiday meta achievements, especially in this last Midsummer before the release of Cataclysm. What better opportunity to go explore the “old world” before it changes totally? You can travel each continent from one end to the other “honouring” or “desecrating” (clicking) fires. You can do it with friends or with enemies or even just do it really late at night for a unique perspective on lonely Azeroth – it’ll be a lot busier soon! You could maybe bring a passenger mount and ferry lowbies around with you, do a sort of guild event or something. And you get loads of gold, a nice title and some fashionable flame-retardant clothes. Fantastic.
Plus it’s probably the most elemental-friendly holiday of the year. Winter’s Veil is fairly elemental but frost is not really our speciality and the festival focuses more on goblin commercialism anyway (which is hilarious, by the way). The Lunar Festival is OK – the Earthen Ring is pretty into the whole Elders thing – but moon stuff is more the domain of our druidic cousins. Midsummer, though – the element of fire with a smidgen of the element of frost – that’s totally our thing. There’s a reason that Flame Warden is the only seasonal title Chayah has (well, she may also be a Brewmaster but that’s probably a story best left untold…). I even tried to farm the Scorchling last year but was ultimately disappointed.
Wowhead has a great overview of the festival which I recommend checking out if you’ve not done it before. Here’s my own brief summary:
Daily quests – the capital cities have a couple of dailies which consist of various dangerous activities involving fire. They don’t take long and aren’t difficult when you get the hang of them (though some cities are markedly easier than others – don’t do torch catching in a busy city, seriously). Your reward for completing them is Burning Blossoms, the currency of the festival.
Lord Ahune – the frost lord dude in Slave Pens, accessible this year by simply clicking through the LFD interface. The first time you kill him each day you’ll get 2x Emblems of Frost (appropriately enough) and a chance at the Scorchling* or new Frostling. The satchel can also contain the Fashion Scythe – this year an ilevel 232 caster staff which is actually really good – and a whole suite of ilevel 232 cloaks which would make a welcome addition to any alt/offspec/unlucky main.
* Hopefully this is intentional and not a “bug” that will be fixed, because I really want that adorable little guy. I mention that because of this disturbing post.
Bonfires – the meat of the festival, these are placed all over the four continents and belong to either faction. Clicking your own will “honour” it and clicking the enemy’s will “desecrate” it and flag you for PvP when the cast ends (which means it’s very easy to escape if you don’t like PvP). Doing this awards you gold and blossoms and is also pretty fun for some reason.
Capital cities – sometime during the festival you should try to make it to the bonfires located in the opposing faction’s capitals, because if you collect flames from all four you’re awarded a pretty crown. And it’s an excuse to sneak into enemy cities for purposes other than PvP, which in past years has been lots of fun but which I’m aware some folks could make rather frustrating.
Blossoms – currency for the festival regalia, but also holiday items in their own right as you can toss them into bonfires and stuff. There’s also a neat moment where you give a Scorchling incense and it goes all – well, just try the quest yourself if you haven’t yet, it’s great :)
Pole dance – not as dodgy as it sounds, spinning around the Midsummer poles gives you an XP bonus and is required for the meta.
The XP and gold bonuses, good reasons to explore the world and lack of any real grouping requirements make this probably the best festival for newer players. But it’s also very social-friendly and has a lot of opportunities for just goofing around. I have some very fond memories of travelling Azeroth in years past, collecting fires and blossoms in-game while our astonishingly light Scottish midsummer evenings pass outside – open windows maybe letting in a cool breeze and soft sounds of an approaching night which never actually gets totally dark at this time of year – a wonderful confluence of local real-world season and in-game event.
I presume most of the WoW festivals are meant to coincide to some extent with real world holidays so that people with extra free time have something extra to do in WoW. Midsummer’s maybe especially good at this for students as we often get that huge summer break around now. Unfortunately it’s also the season for the best tennis tournament in the world (and I hear there’s some other sort of sporting event going on back in SA too) which has the distinction of being one of the few events that my entire family enjoys. And this year I’ve actually got a lot to do IRL still and summer tends to be the best time to meet up with several of my more long-distance friends. And there’s no real raiding lull either – my guild’s still happily plugging away at heroic 10-man Icecrown Citadel. And I’ve just started to mess about with battleground PvP on my mage. And I’m trying to collect daily frost emblems on both my mage and my Death Knight. And there’s a blog to write and a spreadsheet to update and a huge backlog of posts to read in my google reader and araraarrgh.
So I’m looking forward to this in-game holiday and I’d quite like to get my mage the Flame Warden title this year, and maybe get that Scorchling pet for my shaman at last. It’s ironic, though, that there’s so much other stuff I’d like to be doing right now when previous fire festivals have been fairly quiet periods for me. Figuring out how to make this feel like a “holiday” instead of more work might end up being tougher than I’d like. Maybe I should start complaining at Blizzard for making too much content?