Thursday, 13 January 2011

Hello world! Again…

So as this is my first blog post I thought I’d take a little time to try and explain my background in the World of Warcraft, and why I’ve decided to ramble on in the form of a blog.

Firstly my WOW history; I started playing WOW shortly after it was first released when, back in 2004 (was it really that long ago??) my housemate at the time announced he “quite fancied trying an MMO”.  Three months later he’d tried the game and moved on, and I was hooked.

I stumbled across the horde quite by accident, I was actually going to roll a human (something or other, I can’t quite remember) but then my housemate pointed out that as he’d already rolled an Orc Shaman we wouldn’t be able to play together if I did, and so a Troll mage was born.  Like most who were completely new to Warcraft and MMOs at the time, I spent the first few days flailing aimlessly about the Barrens wondering what the hell aggro was, and why I seemed to be getting squashed more than my Shaman partner.

After getting to grips with the base mechanics of the game and joining my first guild, for no other reason than some random asked you to join (don’t try and tell me you haven’t done the same).  I started to meet some likeminded people, some of whom were decent players, who understood what MMOs were about, and taught me how to play the game.  One of my earliest and fondes memories of the game was my first Shadowfang Keep run with some Tauren Warrior who kept SHOUTING things like “PULLING X”, “SHEEP Y” and “WATCH YOUR AGGRO”.  Thankfully I had the good sense to ask what on earth he was going on about, and thankfully he took the time to explain it to me.

Not long after, myself, the said warrior, and a few other in game friends, got together and signed a guild charter, we weren’t too sure why we were forming a guild, but we all knew we didn’t want to be in the random guilds we’d all joined with the “OMFG ROFLECOPTER” brigade (again, don’t tell me you don’t know who I mean).  I remember scraping together the tenth signature, and the gold to buy the charter proved reasonably problematic at the time, but we managed it within a few days and the guild was formed.  For some reason I was chosen as the GM, possibly because I was the most organised, but more likely that I was the only one who could be arsed to make the long trek to Org to hand in the charter.

You may have noticed at this point that I’ve been careful not to name any of the people, the guild, or server that we played on.  This is intentional on my part, for the moment, as I’m not quite sure whether I want to expose myself on the interweb, whether the people I’ll be talking about would appreciate being named themselves, and I quite like the idea of maintaining some mystique for the moment, it’ll give me the opportunity in the future to offer a prize of a half-eaten chocolate digestive to the first person who guesses who I am (assuming anyone actually bothers to read my ramblings).

So back to the plot, after a few weeks of some slightly more refined flailing, some of us had started to get to the heady level of 40 whereby we could get ourselves a mount, if only we could work out where to buy it and pull together the extortionate amount being asked for driving lessons for it.  Our numbers had started to swell, but we quickly realised that we needed to expand more in order to be able to consistently run the 5-mans we wanted to and generally run quests with like-minded guildies of the same level .  We started a recruitment drive, got ourselves a website, and pretty much invited anyone who wanted to join, providing they we’re happy to conform to the guild rules which can be summarised as “no cocks please, thank you”.

Fast forward a few more levels and the race to be the first guildie to hit 60 had been won, it wasn’t me, but I wasn’t far behind and it wasn’t long before we chipped in for a teamspeak server, slowly realising that the 13 year old kid plying the rogue which you’d pictured in your mind’s eye, was actually a 43 year old called Norman from Milton Keynes, and were regularly participating in UBRS running into the early hours of the morning.

I don’t quite remember how, but again almost by accident an in game friend organised a PUG (a 40 man PUG! It still brings me out in cold sweats) Molten Core run, and persuaded me to get myself attuned and get some fire res gear (why the hell would I need fire res gear??).  I don’t remember much of my first steps into MC, but I do remember we didn’t get far and did die quite regularly and realised why there was such a thing as resistance gear.  Not so long after that I decided I’d re-role a priest to help the guild because we, like every other guild, was chronically short of healers, and we all know priests are the only viable raid healers…

Not so long after, with a lot of help from my friends, I had a level 60 priest, and the guild had enough level 60 players to contribute 10 people to another guilds MC run, who couldn’t quite make up the 40 players, after some senior level wrangling it was decided that for loot all the players who could use it would roll, the guild of the winning player would then do with it as the guild pleased, they used DKP (what the hell is DKP??) we simply gave It to the guy with the highest roll.  Statistically this gave us a one in four chance of winning loot, and was a fair way of distributing the loot given the contribution of each guild.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately for me as it happens) I won the first two priest drops, and of five pieces of loot which dropped from the first run, our guild won the roll for five of them.  Now the statisticians amounts you will quickly realise this is an anomaly, and will even itself out over the course of time. WRONG! Clearly the looting agreement was flawed and we’d cheated the other guild out of their hard earned loot so the partnership fell apart at its first attempt, even though we’d been more successful, in killing the first two bosses at the first attempt, than either guild had ever been.
After an initial taste of success, we weren’t going to be thwarted by mere statistics, so guild policy was modified; not only must you be an upstanding, friendly type of chap (i.e. not a cock) but you must also be of the raiding conviction, and register / apply on the website if you want to join the guild (we’re a proper guild now boys).  And a new partnership was formed with a different, this time 20 players from each guild.  We were pro, wipes only took a mere 15 minutes to reform, buff up, and wait for the off tank to come back from his fifth AFK of the evening...  the 50:50 sharing of loot seemed to be holding its own, and those nasty statistics were nowhere to be seen.  I like to think of loot as a nice side effect of the game, it’s nice to have but it’s not what the games all about, sadly not many WOW players hold the same opinion as me on this, and after a few weeks (months? I don’t remember) of decent progression and relative success the inevitable happened, toys were ejected from prams, and the raiding group fell apart.  Not to worry though, we now have well over 40 level 60’s, we can form our own raids easy. Nope.  You may have noticed, if you were paying attention, that I’d rerolled a healer, well I wasn’t the only saddo one to have done the same to help the guild, several of the level 60’s were alts, and the logistics of getting 40 people together at the same time is an absolute nightmare, especially as half of the guild are these Jonny Foreigner types from the continent who don’t do GMT, I actually used to find going to work of a morning a good way of relaxing from the stress of organising raids.

Yet another partnership was formed, this time with a small guild of likeminded Dutch stoners chaps, who turned out to be not bad players at all.  Someone took the time to alt-tab to Wikipedia, and looked up what DKP meant, and so we started the Wednesday evening grind towards Raggy.  Not so long after the smaller guild merged into ours, along with another guild who’d been providing the odd player.  I’ve seen corporate acquisitions take less time and run more smoothly…

Having just realised my brief introduction has now spanned nearly three pages, covered only Vanilla WOW, and my dinner hour has been consumed with a presentation that isn’t going to write itself to prepare, I’ll summarise the rest of my first foray into WOW as quickly as possible.  Within two years of release, MC had been cleared, and was being done so on regular occasions over the course of two week nights, Zul’Gurrub, the weekend entertainment was also on the ropes and, Onyxia was looking more like this years must have hand bag (WHELPS! LEFT SIDE. DEAL WITH IT), and Blackwing Layer was done, all but that final troublesome dragon, I fell out of love for the game.

Partly pressures of progressing up the greasy pole at work, partly the impact on my social life, but mainly the burn-out inevitably suffered by all GM’s and raid leaders, my SFK warrior friend, guild co-founder (and co-GM in all but title), main tank, and as a result of WOW good friend, had warned me of this inevitability over a year ago and I didn’t believe him, but it had happened.  Guild leadership was transferred to the afore-mentioned 13 year old kid who turned out to be a top bloke and I retired from the game. That is until a year or so later when The Burning Crusades was released, but that is a story for another day.  Some of my proudest, and most memorable, gaming moments came from Vanilla WOW, the first Majordomo kill, the first benediction (which I was lucky enough to get), what a bitch of a quest that was… the first Thunderfury in the guild, killing the bat boss in ZG a week before Blizzard decided it was stupidly difficult and made it so easy it was silly, and the eruption of joy on teamspeak as Onyxia went down for the first time.  A week after I left Nefarion fell, probably my only regret from the game was that I wasn’t part of it, but I like to think it was partly down to me not being there to screw up the healing that the guild was successful. 

I was out, cold turkey, I almost managed it, but not quite…

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