WoW Wednesday: The Gatekeeping of the End Game

World of Warcraft is a deceptively easy game to pick up and play. Despite all of its issues in pacing and progression throughout the leveling experience just about every single class is intuitive enough in Battle for Azeroth to quickly grasp. I myself can personally attest to that fact; despite maining a Priest for most of BFA, I’ve recently made the transition to a Hunter alt that I’m enjoying and slowly polishing my skills with. While I’m certainly nowhere near ready to begin pushing the arena rating I want with it, I’m more than prepared to start hitting for the lower aspects of the ladders. However, even with more skilled characters players can often find themselves facing down particular situations in Warcraft that can slow if not bar their progress in the end-game entirely. Gatekeeping is a problem in WoW.

Now what is gatekeeping? Gatekeeping is a method identified as barring or controlling people from participating in or using certain things. In Warcraft this occurs primarily in two major streams of the endgame both in Mythic and Heroic raiding, but also predominantly in Rated Player vs. Player content.

Why does gatekeeping occur? For one simple reason: content is hard.


In the Raiding scene Mythic (or Cutting Edge) raiding is the most mechanically difficult content in
World of Warcraft. A perfect example of the intensity raiders have to mitigate can be witnessed in the Gul’dan encounter in Mythic Nighthold from Legion. The encounter begins with Gul’dan’s fully powered-up state from previous difficulties at the beginning of the fight, further increasing already high damage numbers due to difficulty. Gul’dan then empowers himself to a further state over the course of the battle including a move that can instantly kill players during a phase transition at 66% health. After his defeat, the fight then continues with a unique encounter against a new boss enemy, with new abilities and difficult mechanics. All of this falls on top of increased boss health, enemy mobs spawning in, increased damage percentiles and people managing 20-man groups to pull off the encounter flawlessly.

It’s not hard to see why players involved in raiding want to settle for their best teams possible. This form of self-curation has existed since Vanilla Warcraft, where players could become both famous and infamous within their server community. Later during Wrath Gearscore became the mark that players measured each other’s skill level, as most classes were incredibly gear dependent to a certain extent. Up until Battle for Azeroth with the release of Raider.IO, item level became the big determining factor for player recruitment.

Rated Player Vs. Player content features similar issues across the board due to its reward systems and tiers. In Battle for Azeroth rewards are now gameplay oriented, however, throughout RPvP’s history impressive cosmetic rewards have been synonymous with elite status. Those rewards are tied directly to your Rating, a publicly viewable score that actively adjusts based on your performance. Your personal rating will go up and down as you win matches, increasing and decreasing at a higher rate depending on who you participate with. If you win games with players with a higher rating, yours will skyrocket. If you lose matches while playing with those who have a lower rating than yours, it will plummet.


As such, players naturally only want to compete and play with those of a similar rating and perceived skill level. Some will only want to play with particular, guaranteed proven compositions of classes. With RPvP rewards being restricted to the highest echelons of players, of course others only want to compete with the best of the best. At any moment you could find yourself on a losing streak and your rating could drop between fifty points or five-hundred points depending on your partners’ placement.


Thus comes an incumbent problem with these aspirations of the end-game. Whether you want to be the Gladiator or the killer of Mythic Jaina, players naturally only want to work with those on their skill level to minimize their wasted time. As such, the bar is set high to disqualify those without either the experience in completing lesser difficulties or the equipment and higher gear on their character. Some face fewer issues depending on their server population, some higher. Being based on an RP server, we have one super-sized PvP guild and as such I need to form pick-up-groups if I wish to progress in Rated Battlegrounds. A personal friend based on a PvP oriented realm faces a similar issue with only a handful of raiding guilds and none forming any additional teams.

As such, here’s where we find the problem with gatekeeping magnified. Is gatekeeping inherently wrong? Absolutely not. As a current player in the RPvP circuit, forced exclusivity has forced me to play better in compositions and learn as much as I can. Certainly, I just lost 20 rating with a bad team but now I can recognize the differences between a very good Rogue and a very bad one. Of course, my friend lost a night raiding a Mythic PuG and wiping on the first boss, but now they recognize what really doesn’t make a good raid leader. Failing is as good a teaching tool as playing beside higher-level competitors. Is it frustrating to want progression and effectively take three huge steps backwards? Absolutely.


So what is the solution to this issue, at least in the World of Warcraft? Surely its to get a team of your own together, and on the surface this is a good solution. However, for higher player content, such as Rated Battlegrounds and Mythic Raiding, this becomes innately more difficult. It’s a simple task to rally a few friends for Arenas, despite the fact that high-level rewards are now only afforded to top-tier 3v3 players. However, the often more expansive and broader gameplay is instead even more difficult to breach into due to sheer numbers. Cultivating a cohesive team in the long term is a task that most players simply do not have the time to engage with, nor the skillset to maintain.

 

So here’s my question to you: Gatekeeping seems to be a necessary part of culling the chaff from the wheat. But when that chaff is really some of the most eager and healthiest bushels of the plant, where do we as players have to go against our gut and give people a better chance?

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WoW Wednesday: Amassing Your Feats of Strength!

Achievements in the World of Warcraft have been used for some time to help layers feel rewarded for accomplishing some of the more mundane tasks the game has to offer. Some, like the Rated Battlegrounds achievements are used to mark progressive development throughout a player’s particular career and unlocking rewards as they progress. Others, like the Glory Raid Tier achievements unlock rare and exciting rewards for players who have gone above and beyond to challenge themselves in already and otherwise difficult content. However, there is a particular category of achievements that are impossible if not incredibly difficult to attain. These Feats of Strength are some of the more difficult achievements in the game, requiring particular organization, dedication, or in some cases just plain luck. This week I wanted to detail to you all of the STILL AVAILABLE Feats of Strength you can aspire towards, both for you and your guild.
To start you off slow and easy, It’s Over Nine Thousand! simply requires you to collect 9000 achievement points on one character. However, now that Achievements are more or less account bound, this is one that can be completed rather easily.

 

Legendary Collections

The first and most obvious category to tackle is the plethora of Legendary Weapons available to players. While some like Atiesh, the Greatstaff of the Guardian have been removed from the game, most are still available for players to equip and add to their collections. While Warriors can feasibly collect almost every item on the list, only specific classes can equip certain Legendary weapons thus meaning you’ll need at least three characters to collect every legendary weapon on this list.

Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker is still one of the more sought after weapons to this day, requiring two separate raid boss drops which have a less than 1% drop chance. Combining both the Left and Right Bindings of the Windseeker which drop from Baron Geddon and Garr in Molten Core, players can combine the Bindings with other rare quest items from Blackwing Lair to summon Thunderan the Windseeker, a raid-level boss in Old Silithus. Defeating him awards the player who summoned him the fabled Blade of the Windseeker. Any class that can wield one-handed swords can wield Thunderfury.

Did Someone Say…

Sulfuras, the Hand of Ragnaros is another incredibly rare Vanilla weapon, requiring both a fully leveled Classic Blacksmith and a rare drop from the final boss of Molten Core. Those who can both obtain the Eye of Sulfuras and can forge a Sulfuron Hammer can craft Sulfuras over the Black Anvil of Shadowforge. Only Warriors, Shaman, Death Knights, and Paladins can wield the mighty hammer.

The Warglaives of Azzinoth are Illidan’s legendary weapons, taken from the mighty Burning Legion General Azzinoth. Each warglaive has a 5% chance of dropping from Illidan in the Black Temple raid, and both individual glaives must be equipped on the same character, requiring players to collect both the Main-Hand and Off-Hand glaive. Only Warriors, Rogues, Death Knights, Demon Hunters, and Monks can equip these, and many are seeking them out as they tie into a newer Feat of Strength as well…

Thori’dal, The Star’s Fury is a legendary bow that was heavily sought after by Hunters at the end of The Burning Crusade expansion for its lack of ammo usage. Now it’s just a wonderful collector’s piece that seems to have canonically fallen into the hands of Halduron Brightwing. These days Thori’dal can only be wielded by Warriors, Hunters, and Rogues, and can be taken from Kil’jaeden in the Sunwell Plateau raid.

Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings is one of the most intuitive and interesting pieces to collect on this list. In progressing through Ulduar on 25-Man difficulty (either Normal or Heroic), you can collect Fragments of Val’anyr from slain bosses. After collecting thirty of them you can craft the Shattered Fragments of Val’anyr, which will start the quest called Ancient History. After logging it into the Archivum Console, players must throw their hammer into the maw of Yogg-Saron himself, reforging the ancient weapon. After slaying the Old God, players can collect Val’anyr from his jaws for sole usage by Paladins, Monks, Priests, Druids, and Shaman.

Shadowmourne is perhaps one of the more involved weapons on the list, requiring an entire questline that requires several additional players at multiple points. Forged from the hammer of Arthas Menethil and fragments of the Frozen Throne, players must progress through Icecrown Citadel over the course of several weeks, manipulating boss mechanics as they go to empower Shadowmourne, the very weapon that would canonically slay the Lich King. Those who complete the questline all the way also receive a bonus chest of goodies, some of which have sold for several hundreds of thousands of gold on the Auction House. Only Warriors, Paladins, and Death Knights can carry the heavy burden of wielding Shadowmourne.

“So… You Too Shall Have a Blade For a Prison…”

Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest is a powerful gift from the Blue Dragonflight, awarded to those who complete a long series of quests and ongoing progression throughout the Firelands Raid. After slaying a Molten Lord inside the raid, players can pick up the quest Your Time Has Come and begin the long journey towards settling the balance within the Blue Dragonflight. Only Warlocks, Druids, Shaman, Mages, and Priests can wield Dragonwrath, and with it transform into a unique flying form!

The Fangs of the Father, are a set of twin daggers; Golad, Twilight of Aspects and Tiriosh, Nightmare of Ages created by the Black Prince Wrathion as a gift to the arbiter of his will and a member of the Rogues Guild at Ravenholdt Manor. Meant as an exclusive gift to Rogues, players can begin their arduous service to Wrathion inside the Dragon Soul raid by talking to Lord Afrasastrasz and picking up the quest Proving Your Worth. As players work to unravel the mystery around Wrathion and his motivations Rogues will continue to progress through Dragon Soul to further empower their weapons, eventually creating The Fangs of the Father. This quest-chain can only be completed by Rogues and is heavily recommended for any Rogue player to finish before pursuing Insane in the Membrane.

 

Mountains of Mounts

There are an exorbitant amount of mounts tied to Feats of Strength Achievements, so we’ll detail all of them below. Most have incredibly low drop rates of only a few percent, though each dungeon mount can be grinded as long as players do not meet the instance cap limits in a short period of time. Several others simply need to be found through extraordinary means.

The Ashes of Al’ar are Prince Kael’Thas Sunstrider’s personal phoenix. They can be looted from his corpse in Tempest Keep.

The Deathcharger’s Reins control the Fourth Horseman of Naxxramas’ personal steed, and it’s the only Skeletal Warhorse mount that members of the Alliance have access to. Players can loot it from Baron Rivendare’s corpse in the Stratholme – Service Entrance dungeon.

The Baron and his illustrious steed.

The Fiery Warhorse’s Reins direct the personal steed of Attumen the Huntsman, the stable-lord of Medivh’s personal keep. It can be looted from his corpse in Karazhan.

The Grand Black War Mammoth is a mount that takes a bit of finesse as well as luck. Located in the Vault of Archavon raid, players must first have faction control of Wintergrasp before they can enter. The mount, thankfully, drops off of any of the four bosses inside the Vault.

Invincible is the Lich King’s rarely seen steed and is often the centerpiece of a mount-seeker’s collection. You too can collect this often-mispronounced mount from the body of Prince Arthas Menenthil from Icecrown Citadel on 25-Man Heroic difficulty.

Mimiron is one of the Watchers of Ulduar, and as such his head is large enough to fill the ego needed for that spot. Players can collect the Mobile Command Platform of V-07-TR-0N by killing Yogg-Saron in Ulduar’s 25 man difficulty.

The Reins of the Raven Lord are the personification of the Raven-God Anzu himself, and can only be taken from the body of Anzu in Sethekk Halls. Players may find some difficulties with this one, as they can only be obtained on Heroic Difficulty, meaning your chances dry up to a measly once per day.

The Swift White Hawkstrider is another pet of Prince Kael’thas, and can be looted from his corpse in Magister’s Terrace on Heroic difficulty.

The Red Qiraji Crystal is an incredibly rare mount drop from the minions of the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, though most players can find it within a few full-clear runs.

You’ll want this one. Why? Because It’s Red.

Several Dungeon Mounts from older instances of Zul’Gurub have since been removed from the game, but both will still award Feats of Strength if you manage to collect them from the Black Market Auction House. These are the Swift Zulian Tiger and the Swift Razzashi Raptor.

I’ve Got 9999 Problems but a Bone-White Primal Raptor Ain’t One is pretty self-explanatory. Simple turn in 9999 Giant Dinosaur bones to Ku’ma and collect your mount!

The Scourer of the Eternal Sands are awarded to, in my opinion, the only true crazy farmers. Requiring players to search Uldum for Mysterious Camel Figurines, one of which crumbles to dust and one of which is the correct one. Upon finding the right one (which is a pitifully low chance) players will be teleported to Dormus the Camel-Hoarder who drops the Grey Riding Camel.

The Venomhide Ravasaur and Winterspring Frostsaber are two mounts that have been around since Vanilla Warcraft but are still rare simply due to the lack of knowledge of them. Only available to the Horde and Alliance respectively, players must travel to either Un’Goro Crater or Winterspring and complete 20 days of quests in order to unlock the mounts. Completing the questline will reward you with your mount, which will change to the other if you swap factions.

One of the few mounts on this list that truly has a purring engine

The Big Love Rocket is attained by looting the titular Rocket from Apothecary Hummel in Shadowfang Keep during the seasonal event Love is in the Air. This is the rarest seasonal mount, boasting a 0.0033% drop rate.

A Brew-FAST Mount requires you to loot one of the two special Brewfest mounts during the holiday from Coren Direbrew in Blackrock Depths.

The Horseman’s Reins is obtained by looting the Headless Horseman’s mount during Hallow’s End and is one of the most sought after mounts due to its ability to fly.

Players can also unlock Feats of Strength for Expansion Collector’s Edition mounts, starting with Mists of Pandaria. Additional mounts can be obtained through the Recruit a Friend Program, and are rewarded for each new player you get to join the world of Azeroth:

Friends in High Places rewards the Swift Zherva Mount.

Friends in Even Higher Places rewards the X-53 Touring Rocket.

Friends in Places Higher Yet rewards the Heart of the Nightwing.

Friends in Places Even Higher Than That rewards the Emerald Hippogryph.

Friends in Places Yet Even Higher Than That rewards the Cindermane Charger.

You can’t get much higher than the Cindermane Charger…

 

Promotional Perks

Blizzard is well known to do some cross-promotion in between its games, and Warcraft is no exception to that rule.

The Fledgling Hero of Warcraft simply requires you to level a character from 1 to 20, which will unlock the lovely Lady Liadrin as a Paladin Hero in Hearthstone.

Hearthstoned merely requires you to win 3 games in Arena or Play Mode in Hearthstone and will reward you with a slick Hearthsteed mount in Warcraft. Just remember, Tutorial Matches don’t count!

Hero of the Storm requires you reach account level 20 in Heroes of the Storm, which award your Warcraft account with Graves and the Feat of Strength.

 

Dungeons and Raids

Implemented since Mists of Pandaria, each raid tier has two Feats of Strength associated with their particular end boss, Ahead of the Curve and Cutting Edge. Ahead of the Curve is rewarded for killing the last boss on Heroic Difficulty and Cutting Edge for Mythic. These Feats are only available to players while that tier is the current end-game content; once the raid opens these achievements are no longer available to the player base.

The Violet Spellwing, a limited gift from the Kirin Tor to those who completed Ahead of the Curve: Argus the Unmaker

New to Battle for Azeroth are Keystone Conquerer and Keystone Master, requiring players to complete Mythic +10 and +15 dungeons respectively during the first tier of content, during Season One of end-game content.

For those looking for more of a logistical challenge, Herald of the Titans requires players to defeat Algalon the Observer in Ulduar under similar conditions to how it was at current content; every player of the group must be level 80, and cannot have any equipment with a higher iLvl than 100. This is one of the harder challenges, especially with so many stat squish issues from Battle for Azeroth’s launch. I’ve recently undergone the challenge myself, and I heavily recommend joining either The Achievements Discord or The G(aming) Spot Discord to find or round out your group.

Player vs. Player

New to Battle For Azeroth are seasonal marker Feats, from Challenger: Battle for Azeroth Season 1 at 1400 rating, to Dread Gladiator: Battle for Azeroth Season 1, bringing them in line with other seasonal markers. Rated Battlegrounds only feature the Seasonal Championship Title, this season being Hero of the Horde/Alliance: Dread.

A seasonal Feat of Strength, obtainable only for one season!

The Last of Us is awarded to players who win the Highmaul Coliseum Free-For-All. This has had a small resurgence in popularity due to the increased level bracket and popularity of Warlords PvP Groups with the defunct state of Ashran.

 

Gotta Collect ‘Em All!

There are a wide slew of collectibles for the avid collector, too many to feasibly list here. So far, every Collector’s/Origin/Ultra-Rare edition of a Blizzard Game that includes a collectible has a Feat of Strength associated with it.

As well, every WoW item released with the Blizzcon tickets have associated Feats of Strength, up to this year’s Faction Banners.

Reputation is Everything!

Hero of Shattrath is one of the more arduous achievements on this list. Requiring you to first max out your reputation with either the Scryers or Aldor factions in Shattrath, you must then betray your reputation and level the opposite faction to Exalted. The worst part is that both must be done on one character, requiring several long hours of grinding.

Avast, Ye Admiral! is another very popular achievement, requiring you to rise to reach Friendly with the Bloodsail Buccaneers, a treacherous band of pirates opposed to Booty Bay. Doing so will lower your reputation to Hated with Booty Bay, and will make you an enemy of the Steamwheedle Cartel. Afterward, you can complete a short questline to receive a full Pirate’s attire, a Bloodsail Admiral’s Hat, and the title of Bloodsail Admiral!

Insane in the Membrane is an incredibly lengthy achievement to conquer, requiring you to become Honored with the Bloodsail Buccaneers and Exalted with Everlook, Gadgetzan, Booty Bay, Ratchet, Ravenholdt, and the Darkmoon Faire SIMULTANEOUSLY. Dedicated farmers can complete the entire grind in a little over three real-life months, and there are entire guides dedicated to the Feat of Strength. While our own guide is in progress, its needless to say that this is a true Feat of Strength (or insanity, depending on who’s asking).

My first go-around completing Insane in the Membrane, taking three months and a whole raid tier of time.

 

Miscellaneous Match-ups

Drop Dead, Gorgeous requires you to collect all 8 transmoggable pieces of your class’ set from Classic Naxxramas 40-Man. As Old Naxx no longer exists, players will have to buy their older set pieces from the Black Market Auction House. While every set is no longer class-locked, only your particular class sets are counted. Obviously, Monks, Death Knights, and Demon Hunters will be unable to complete this FoS.

A Legendary Campaign requires you to complete every Legion Class Order Hall Campaign for EVERY class. You don’t need to complete the mount questline on the Broken Shore, just up to the Class Specific titles and advanced weapon transmogs.

Predator is one of the more involved achievements from Tanaan Jungle, requiring you to first complete Jungle Stalker. After that, you must raise your reputation to the Order of the Awakened to Exalted, and collect a Seeking Crystal. Then you’ll need to use it and simply hope that Xemirkol is up, who has a respawn of almost 24 hours. Kill him and become the Predator.

You’re Really Doing it Wrong simply (ha ha) requires you to complete a Basic (Gold) Proving Ground trial in a spec that it’s not designed for. Most players may find it easier to complete this by performing the DPS trial as a Tank.

I’ll Hold These For Your Until You Get Out is one of the harder achievements on this list simply down to pure luck. First, you’ll need to collect both Warglaives of Azzinoth on any character and collect the associated Feat of Strength. Once you have that, you must defeat Illidan again in the Timewalking version of the Black Temple on a Demon Hunter. After defeating him, you’ll receive Arsenal: The Warglaives of Azzinoth for your Demon Hunter and the FoS.

Each of WoW’s Anniversary events have associated Feats of Strength for logging on during the event as well as an additional achievement, Did Someone Say…? This can be obtained by purchasing an Inflatable Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker for 50 Timewarped Badges during the Anniversary.

Every toy from the Feast of Winter Veil that can be found underneath your tree also has an associated Feat of Strength. Good luck collecting them all!

 

For The Guild!

That’s right! Many players forget that Guilds also have achievements too, and each guild has Feats of Strength to complete!

Hall of Fame requires your guild to be one of the first 100 guilds IN THE WORLD on your faction to defeat the current end-tier raid boss. For Battle for Azeroth: Season One that’s Mythic G’huun and rewards the title “%, Famed Slayer of G’huun.”

Feats of Strength

Only the most dedicated heroes can enter Uldir’s Hall of Fame…

Guild Gladiators requires one character of every class in your guild to obtain the Gladiator title within one season. Players who transfer between guilds, or earn it outside of a guild, must earn the title again during the following season.

Ordos Guild Run is now one of the harder Feats of Strength to obtain, requiring one player to the now unobtainable cape from Mists of Pandaria. However, if 7 other guildies are in a group with this one member, they can kill Ordos on the Timeless Isle alone while the others watch from across the bridge and still earn credit.

Guild Battlemasters is without a doubt the hardest Feat of Strength on this list, requiring one character from each class in the guild to complete the Battlemaster achievement. Just one Battlemaster requires over 100 Battleground wins, dozens of RNG based achievements, and a lot of grey hairs. I myself have been working on my own Battlemaster since May of this year, and have still not complete even one of the required Master of… meta-achievements.

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