28th January marks the start of 2017’s Lunar New Year (also known as ‘Spring Festival’ and ‘Chinese New Year’), which commemorates the start of the year based on the lunar calendar. This 15 day long event is celebrated by Chinese all over the world, and is a time for families return to their home countries and gather with their families in celebration (source).
Like last year, DH5 also presents their version of celebration in the form of a special event (Wanted Challenge), but is much much more generous compared to 2016’s edition. Hence, similar to the Halloween post last year, this will briefly review the event with emphasis on the cultural ties it has to the real-life festival.
Be warned, this will cover more than just traditional customs and folklore so hopefully you’re in for a relatively long read.
While not much can be said about the actual WC event, this year’s event is largely generous in terms of rewarding both F2P and P2P players alike for their straight-up participation. Not going too much into detail, benefits such as daily giveaways, increased chest drop rates, reduced reward tiers and improved loot for event chests allow all players from just being active within this period of time.
Moreover, with the multi-rush function introduced in this update, it is much easier to obtain the improved gem and gear rewards at every reward tier…with gemmers getting the Yulong minion within minutes of the event’s release.
DH5’s in-game’s Spring Festival event has some well-thought out references to the real-life version of the Lunar New Year, correlating to some of the traditional folklore, customs and even paleontology as well.
For this post, I’ll cover the origins of the Nian beast, the significance of bells and the Yulong minion as some of the notable highlights of this year’s WC.
Nian Beast (年兽)
Starting from the similarities to last year’s edition of the event, the Nian (年兽) – the beast that sits in the middle altar of the Temple of Bells, is a direct reference to the folk origins of Chinese New Year.
As a mythical dog-like beast based in China, the Nian preyed on villages and attacked late at night on the eve of every Chinese new year. It was responsible for wrecking property, consuming loose lifestock and devouring young children who wandered out from their homes. Thus, villagers would usually lock themselves up in their homes in fear of it coming after them. (Sources: 1,2,3)
Hence, the villagers took it upon themselves to decorate their houses by putting up red paper before the night of the Nian’s arrival. Finally, when the Nian showed up, they lit lanterns, fire crackers and fire works and banged loudly on gongs. This was successful in chasing the creature away, never to reveal itself in the future.
Since then, it has become a tradition where families would adorn their house entrances with red cloth, paper, lanterns and couplets as a sign of welcoming good luck. Although the usage of individual fire crackers and fire works have been restricted for safety reasons, they are still used to usher in the New Year with a bang in a controlled fashion at large scale count-down events, akin to how the Nian was chased off since the ‘ancient times‘.
Another interesting things to note would be that the Chinese character for Nian is the same as that as ‘Year‘. Thus, the term ‘Guo Nian‘ 过年 refers to successfully excelling over not only the beast, but also the year itself – something of an achievement in my opinion. 🙂
In the game itself, the Nian beast is portrayed visually in the same way it has been in certain Chinese imagery of the folk tale – as a dog-like horned beast with the mane of a lion. It also fears loud noise and bright lights as seen from the fireworks set off all around it whenever its minions have been cleared at every wave.
But what bears a stronger reference to real life would be the venue of where the Nian shows up: the Temple of Bells.
Ringing the Bells
The game’s fictional act of summoning minions to the Nian’s aid, might be the closest thing to non-fiction in this game.
As a real-life customary event, the ringing of the bell ushers in the new year. This is done at the stroke of midnight of the new year’s day, where people would gather large squares or even visit remote mountainous temples to hear the ringing of a large bell. This symbolizes the driving away of bad luck and to bring in good fortune.
As a note of interest, these huge sized bells are usually etched with patterns and/or Buddhist mantras on its surface. This holds true for the bell featured on the main landing screen where Chinese characters have been inscribed on the bell…but what they exactly mean still remains a mystery (as discussed here).
Tied in with scaring away the Nian beast, ringing the large bells in the temple summons his minions to combat the player within the temple itself…which turn out to be a number of roosters (both big and small) which have another stream of cultural and real-life references of their own.
Year of the Rooster
Exclusive to 2017, the Yulong 御龙 is the main minion that appears (in addition to the tiny roosters, emberstrike conjurers and ogurins) upon ringing the bells to defend the Nian.
Unlike the monkey brawlers of last year which fits the zodiac calendar of the year of the monkey, this year happens to be the year of the fire rooster. While I can’t give anymore references to how this is derived, interested folks can look into Feng Shui geomancy where each calendar year is represented by one out of the 12 different zodiac animals, but also one out of the 5 elements.
Besides the WC gear (armor and crossbow) designed with the features of a rooster, the army of fire roosters and Yulongs go beyond cultural relations to the festival itself.
For those curious, I won’t be doing a review post on the Yulong just yet as the minion just came out and I would require more data on how it performs in raids before putting together a future post on it. However, there are certain forum threads which discuss about its combat prowess.
On one hand, the chinese characters for Yulong 御龙 can be translated to ‘Royal Dragon‘ and has associates to traditional Chinese surnames of heroic figures. However, the depiction of Chinese dragons are largely varied from the Western variations, with long scaly bodies similar to a snake, rather than the reptilian winged dinosaurs seen in the western context.
On first glance, one might think that the design of the Yulong itself is inherently faulty as the graphical depiction of the Yulong has more resemblance to the western variant instead of the Chinese one, and also closer to a giant chicken instead.
While I was about to fault the game designers for this lapse in cultural reference, I chanced upon an article when doing more searching of what a ‘Yulong‘ actually was…and to be honest, what I thought was a flaw happened to be the most brilliant reference I’ve seen yet.
Bringing paleontology into the picture (the study of dinosaurs), the Yulong 豫龙 (or more appropriately, the Yulong mini) is a dinosaur species whose remains were found in China, in the Qiupa formation of the Henan province and discovered recently in the year 2013. It’s bone structure was revealed to be shaped of that of an Oviraptoridae, with physical features of a toothless beak, sometimes elaborate crests and have been largely associated to birds. The Yulong itself is of a small size with an estimate length of 50 cm long, resulting in it being identified most closely to that of a chicken.
Furthermore, the greatest link to its real-life counterpart is the Yulong’s distinct inability to fly. While many players previously perceived it to be modeled after a Harbringer or Mossback dragon, the Yulong is mainly land-based and catches up to raiders by running.
Moreover, the Yulong’s attack pattern also mimicks that of a real chicken, where it would peck, scratch and jump/rush towards the raider when attacking. Its dash ability is able to push away and burn raiders in a single move, making it a deadly adversary especially when possibly buffed by the Ruby Temple or Guardhouse…but that’s for another post in the future. 🙂
It is evident that there’s a great deal of thought and effort that went in to designing the event, while making it not only possessing cultural, but real-life significance as well. Let’s hope that there’s more to come in future updates.
And to all my Chinese readers: Happy Chinese New Year!