Insane in the Membrane: PART ONE

Apple Cider dings the achievement "Insane in the Membrane"

It’s true; I never thought I’d actually finish this notorious Feat of Strength. I had put it off, procrastinated, and simply shot my foot in so many places that I did not know if I’d limp across the finish line. However, expansion doldrums always tends to drive me into a frenzy of trying to do the impossible. It is what got myself and a guildmate started on this road 2+ years ago – Wrath of the Lich King. I didn’t do this the “easy” way in the slightest and stretching it out over a long period of time did nothing for me other than force me into day-long grind sessions  at times and benefit from almost no changes to the mechanics of obtaining reputation.

It started innocently enough too – I don’t think most people say they are going to go for Insane. It’s one of those far-off dreams you always say you want to accomplish. The day that it truly takes root in your brain, though, is when you spy something on the Auction House or on an alt and you tuck it away for the “eventual Insane grind.”  That is when it has taken your brain in its feverish grip and doesn’t let go. Oh, sure, you might think you’re doing other things, like raiding or PVPing, but you’re really just putting off doing the Insane.

This is my story – it is long and definitely not without the concerted efforts of one Mythraidates, my insane partner and my guildmates, for putting up with my craziness (literal and metaphorical.)

Tips for Insane:

  • Have some way of watching stuff while playing WoW: A second monitor, laptop, TV, or overlaid video files on top of WoW will make this a lot more painless.
  • Friends/guildmates/employees: A lot of people can help out for stuff like Ravenholdt. I paid guildmates 1k gold to get me a chunk of the lockboxes I needed for the tail-end of Revered -> Exalted.
  • Their reputation calculator is invaluable here. It tells you how you can rep up with every single reputation in-game in a concise manner and tracks your personal progress with breakdowns on kills or turn-ins needed, as well as individual item counts.
  • Don’t loot bodies: If you’re doing kills for rep, do not waste time looting a body.

Bloodsail Buccaneers

I believe this is where I started. It’s really hard to tell at this point but the completion date on my Feat of Strength indicates 4/20/10, meaning exactly 2 years and the first rep I finished. It was by no means the first rep I started, but this was the accepted place most guides recommended. Ideally, when attempting to do Insane in the past, you were constantly gathering materials for some of the more turn-in heavy reputations (which has been mostly negated now, save for Ravenholdt) even while you were working on kills-only reputations. Bloodsail is suggested as the easiest  just because you can clean through it in a couple hours at most, even spread out over a couple of days. It helps if you have friends to do this part (since you can share the reputation) and it also lessens downtime to regen health or mana. However, even at 80, I still cleared through most of Booty Bay’s NPCs (skipping guard spam as much as possible) quickly on my circuit and needed to wait for respawns.

Keeping away from the auctioneers and other high-level NPCs would keep guard swarm low. You don’t want to get overwhelmed. Also, after a while, your reputation will cause you not to be able to go into any Goblin towns or use varied mailboxes or vendors until you repair it.

An interesting side-effect of doing the grind was that while I was hated by Booty Bay, I could kill the innkeeper in the bar. Doing this on a Sunday would, in essence, prevent people from binding their hearth there for the fishing contest. However, this is griefing and makes you a giant dick if you do this over and over intentionally, so don’t!

Finishing this grind up to Honored rewarded me with a sweet hat and outfit, along with a title. However, because I’m such a weirdo softy, I do not like wearing said outfit very often because Bloodsails are corrupt! However, I believe the hat CAN be transmogged, if you want to show off your piratical pride.

This had to be, by far, the easiest part of the grind and the least time.

All the Dang Goblins 

After getting Bloodsail, the efforts to get the Insane title kicked into serious effort. There was no going back now, unless I really wanted to never set foot in goblin towns ever again. Efforts to collect and gather materials for both Shendralar and Darkmoon Faire were going on concurrently. However, I made a rookie mistake and had started using what-was a recently implemented NPC that allowed you to “fix” your goblin rep easily for people who were interested in Bloodsail Admiral but wanted to not be smooshed by bruisers on a regular basis. What this does however, is dial back your Bloodsail reputation. You have to have Bloodsail stopped at Honored in order to gain the meta achievement, so this won’t work. You have to do it the hard way.

The hard way, at the time, was predominantly running Dire Maul to do the Free Knot! quest. This was the most efficient way just due to how it worked in tandem with collecting some of the items for the Shendralar grind. Librams frequently dropped off mobs or were found on the floor, as well as access to the elders for turn-ins. The alternative to this was spending hours upon hours killing tons of low level pirates for 5 rep a pop. I chose Dire Maul and had to run it many, many hours. Back then, having access to an engineering mailbox and a Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth was crucial, as well as binding your hearth in Feathermoon. The reason for this is because you could only carry one Gordok Shackle key (a random drop off ogres) on you, which would be used to free the goblin, Knot. This meant you always wanted to be carrying one key on you, so you’d be guaranteed at least freeing the goblin.  Before you let him go, you wanted to maximize how much rep you got per instance reset with doing Ogre Suit quest. How many suits you could make depended on how many materials you had on you (you could pick up tannins inside the instance, but needed outside materials to create them), as well as how many you could comfortably destroy or mail off (hence the mailbox) since suits were Unique.

So this is how a perfect Dire Maul run would go:

  • Run in with Gordok Ogre Key.
  • Kill ogres, hoping other key drops.
  • Key drops somewhere close to the goblin.
  • Scurry to clear up to the ogre tannin and back to the goblin before the key despawns.
  • Turn in as many ogre suits as possible, destroying or mailing them off if you had a mailbox/Argent pet available.
  • Free Knot.
  • Scurry to pick up key.
  • Rinse, repeat until instance limit kicked in.

A lot of times runs were not perfect. Extra keys would drop that I couldn’t loot, I’d run out of materials for the suits, my hearthstone wouldn’t be up to empty my bags in Feathermoon or I had to wait out the instance cooldown.

On the last day that Dire Maul was available to do this part, I ran the dungeon for 18 hours straight. I’m not  in a hurry to ever do anything like that again. I consider it a dark, shameful moment in my WoW career.

Nerdy Librarian of Shen’dralar

I’m glad that I got the Feat of Strength for this as I feel this is what really separated old Insane grind from new Insane grind. And not in that “badge of courage” sort of way, like most achievements. Mostly throwing people who were involved in this ridiculousness a bone. By the time that Shen’dralar became a “meaningful” reputation just via the Insane, most of the materials to grind it had already fallen well into disuse (Librams, Pristine Black Diamonds) and scarcity. What you did was have to basically scope the Auction House (which I already was doing every day, most hours of the day for Darkmoon Faire) and do dungeons and run around zones for mats. Why? Because the only method of gaining rep aside from the class quests (as any vanilla player will remember) was turning in librams/materials for enchants. The librams were a rare zone drop from Dire Maul itself. The materials were another story entirely.

  • Libram of Focus: 1x Pristine Black Diamonds, 2x Large Brilliant Shard, 1x Blood of Heroes
  • Libram of Protection: 1x Pristine Black Diamond, 2x Large Brilliant Shard, 1x Frayed Abomination Stitching
  • Libram of Rapidity: 1x Pristine Black Diamond, 2x Large Brilliant Shard, 1x Skin of Shadow

The PBSes were exceedingly rare world drops and usually went for a fortune in the Auction House now that people had dumped off their large supply of them post-vanilla. (We started doing this in Wrath, remember) The value of them due to scarcity and demand was up pretty high. LBSes were easily the cheapest of the bunch but still required a lot of time spent disenchanting things or just plucking cheap lots of them off the AH. The rest of the time was spent going through Scholomance, Stratholme (thankfully we could solo or duo this reliably now), or the occasional zone run-arounds in Western/Eastern Plaguelands. Thankfully Gatherer/Gathermate had data for treasure, which is what the Blood of Heroes counted as. The only problem is they had hundreds of potential spawn points and usually only 7 up at any one time.  At any point you might be working against other people as well (our server has a high amount of Insane people, interestingly.) So we mostly spent a great deal of time in Scholo, as Stratholme took a little longer.

This easily was the most annoying part of Insane, given how much money I shelled out for stuff or dungeons I ran to gather mats. It was always down to RNG and money and time. When I finally finished this off, I was glad. Keep in mind that this reputation and the methods of obtaining it went into the ether at the same time as the old Goblin rep quests too, so part of that large chunk of time that I spent in Dire Maul was racing to get this done as well (as far as I can remember; that day is mostly a blur.)

Blizzard had originally planned on removing the Insane grind in 4.0 for Cataclysm, but recanted when enough people shouted that they needed more time or had come to the game late and wanted to try and complete it. They ended up removing just Shendralar from the meta and gave all of us who were stupid enough to try and get that reputation to exalted an extra Feat of Strength for our troubles.

This is everything I got done before Deathwing came and breathed fire on all the land.

Part 2 of this wacky, Herculean effort.