As an avid achievement junkie, I loved the fact that Blizzard added additional quest based achievements to the old world in Cataclysm. While riding the Rocket Rail from the North Terminus to the South Terminus isn’t exactly the most daunting task, it’s nice to see little things like that make it into the game (Besides, the view and erratic behavior of the rockets can’t be beat.) However, in Azshara there’s a trio of achievements that are tied into the three trials that you must complete for the… um… “eccentric” Archmage Xylem. Essentially the quests require you to obtain a certain amount of stacks of a buff by doing certain things: standing in safe areas, trapping ghosts, or collecting orbs. If you take damage, you lose a stack. However, the achievements require you to do this without taking any damage. Which ramps up the difficulty a little bit.
When I say a ‘little bit’ I mean a little bit. The Trials of Fire and Shadow are exceptionally easy to do the achievements for. The tasks are easy to see and not standing in the bad is pretty easy to follow, so not getting hit isn’t a grueling task. However, if you’ve attempted the achievement for the Trial of Ice, you may have been pulling out your hair out how tediously painful that achievement can be. The waves of ice routinely will hit you when you are no where near them, the orbs aren’t always picked up regardless of how close or how long you touch them, and the runes seem to trigger whenever they want at different ranges. I spent about 30 minutes trying to figure out exactly how this achievement works and I’m here to happily share some of my tips with you if you are also struggling with this.
TIP #1: DON’T WATCH THE STACKS: To complete the quest, you are required to gain 20 stacks of a buff given by the Icy Orbs that float around. These stacks will wear off after a minute of not gaining another stack. This puts a strict time limit on how long you have to navigate the ice to grab your next orb, and can put a lot of stress on you if you’re attempting to not take any damage. The biggest turn in doing this achievement is realizing that the stacking buff has no bearing whatsoever on the achievement. Go ahead! Track the achievement. You can grab an orb, sit outside the ice as long as you want, let the buff wear off and you’ll still have 1/20 toward the achievement. You can take as long as you want to get these just as long as the ice beams don’t hit you!
TIP #2: STAND BEHIND THE BEAMS: The Ice Beams are very tricky. They will routinely hit you far ahead of where they actually appear to be, and I can only imagine it’s worse if you have sub-optimal latency. The trick to avoiding being hit is to not attempt to out run the beams, but to walk behind them. This is easier to do on a mount or with some speed boost (Travel Form, Ghost Wolf, or Aspect of the Cheetah) because the beams move much faster than your characters walk speed, especially when you’re moving around trying to nab the orbs. Sometimes the beams will catch up to you while you’re grabbing the orbs (because they take a bit to register being picked up sometimes), which brings me to Tip #3…
TIP #3: KNOW THE SAFE ZONES: There are several places around the plateau where the beams will either not reach or just not hit for some reason. These ‘Safe Zones’ are the best places to hide when a beams heading your way and you’re running about. I’ve made the following map to show the couple that I used:
The important things to note about these spots, other than the one at the portal, is that they are very temperamental. In order to avoid being hit, you need to make sure you are either a place where the ground has turned to rock or becomes darker in color. In terms of the bottom safe zone on the map, it’s actually a small ledge that puts you below the height of the beams. So duck down there to avoid being hit. I am sure that there are probably a couple more around the island that you can use, these are just the few I figured out while doing the achievement. Using these safe spots, I was able to run around the entire area and gather orbs and still manage to avoid the beams.
TIP #4: AVOID THE RUNES: While Xylem will be quick to inform you that the runes on the ground can either help or hinder you, my experience would suggest that the chance of hindering you far outweighs the chance to help you. Technically, you could use them to launch yourself up in the air to avoid the beams, but the beams and runes are fickle enough that you land just as likely a chance to fall down right into the beam, or the rune won’t trigger immediately and you’ll get hit by the beam. It’s best to just avoid the things entirely that deal with the possible headaches they can create.
TIP #5: STAY AWAY FROM THE ICY GROUND: This one really is the simplest and most obvious tip of them all. The icy ground around the giant beam-emitting balls will slow you down if you step into it. Just avoid it. At all costs. If an orb spawns in the icy ground, just ignore it. Resist that temptation at all costs. I was screwed over more than once by grabbing that orb because I figured the beam was no where close, and I only needed two more or something. BAM! Back to 0/20 on the counter. Regardless of where the beam is, the icy ground is just going to screw you up in the long run.
There’s really two strategies currently available, but I’m sure that a third will emerge once you can fly in Azeroth. The first is simply find a good safe spot, run in and grab one or two orbs, then go back to the safe spot and wait for the orbs to respawn. It’s certainly a valid strategy, probably the easiest one as well, but a bit on the time consuming side (Hey, if you’re bothering with these achievements, you don’t mind time consuming, do you?)
The other strategy is the one I used, simply make your way around the island counter-clockwise (all the beams go counter-clockwise, so you can follow behind them this way) and duck into the safe zones when you reach them. You’ll get the achievement done quicker, but you risk resetting the counter by getting hit a bit more than say standing by the portal and running out to grab one orb over and over.
Hopefully, this will help all of you achievement hunters out there have a bit less of a hair-pulling experience attempting to be a glutton for icy punishment!