Posted by: ariedan | April 9, 2009

How Did I Get Here?

Sometimes, I look back at where I am, what I’ve done, who I’ve met, what I’ve seen in this game, and wonder, how did I get here? Pre-BC, I virtually had no experience in this game. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have experience tanking but on another toon, or that at the very least, I did MC and was working on BWL or something. Unless you count walking into ZG once at 60 – killing nothing except ourselves!- I had zero experience. None. I was the epitome of the casual player; I logged on maybe every other day, had severe alt-itis, didn’t really care to be level-capped for end-game. I remember sitting around Stormwind in my horrible questing greens and shabby blues, admiring those wearing a single epic. I didn’t quite understand the idea of tier sets and how difficult they were to obtain, but it doesn’t matter if it were tier one or tier three- bread is bread to a starving man.. er, woman. I would play specter to the community forums, watching all the important people argue and troll each other. I would see people discuss progression and make fun of the guilds that were still trying to find the people do attempt ZG. It was just a whole different aspect of the game, and one I never thought to see.

How did I get here?

Surprising even myself, I leveled to 70 relatively fast, picked up questing and instance blues, and fancied myself a tank, when in reality, I didn’t know a single thing about tanking. I got into the second best alliance guild by making a friend with an officer, and they gave me a chance. In retrospect, I don’t know how they tolerated me. I remember trying to do Nightbane (this was when it was still ridiculously hard), and when I died a whole lot, and the healer asked why I allowed myself to eat a crushing blow, I was completely puzzled. What’s a crushing blow, I remember asking vent, only to be responded with snickers in vent and /facepalms in raid. I clicked, I keyboard turned, I didn’t heroic strike spam– I didn’t have an idea what “TPS” meant. I didn’t know the bosses, and I didn’t care to know the bosses. Responsibility? Pfft, what’s that? I couldn’t pull trash because I was too timid, and when I say timid, I just stood there until someone told me what to do. I gemmed my gear with vendor avoidance gems, I was crittable, I never used shield block, my health pool was little over 10,000. Again, how did I get here?

With effort, careful research, and going the extra mile most others were too lazy to do, I was able to keep my spot in the guild. I began reading theorycraft and guides, saw the light, and learned a little more about playing and gearing myself. I changed my spec to the cookie cutter 8/5/48 instead of the really weird one I was sporting (I was all over the place.. imp shield bash, imp revenge, no cruelty, oh my!). I became more assertive and confident, I started to learn the trash well enough to mark and assign CC to my own. I learned what TPS meant and that at the very least, 800 TPS was the benchmark I needed to reach as a tank. I started keybinding abilities and learned to turn with my mouse. I played around with my gear and my threat rotation, and instead of complaining about threat, I was complimented. But still, this was Karazhan; how did I get where I am?

Around the late spring, my guild fell apart when a friend of theirs recreated their old guild from Pre-BC. I managed to snag an invite, and I did all right there. Nothing amazing, but I was an off tank at TK/SSC level- I tanked trash and adds- I didn’t need to be great. Then, they made their raid times even earlier, so I made the decision to look for another guild. I applied to several, and was accepted into several high-level guilds. It’s amazing where being intelligent and well written can take you when you lack gear and experience. I decided to try a guild on Frostmane because their times were perfect- it would mean I’d never miss a raid to work again. I was recruited by Serennia/Avatar (whom I knew nothing of at the time), and transferred over to play with Dragonflight, a guild 3/5 and 4/9 when most people were still trying to master Karazhan.

Serennia yelled a lot. That was the first thing I noticed about my new guild. He never stopped yelling. We wiped on Hydross, and he yelled at everyone. He yelled at me enough to think I was about the worst tank, and again, I kept asking myself, who do I think I’m kidding? I’m not good enough to be here, to be in a top guild, to be playing with these people. I didn’t refresh his demo shout and thunderclap quickly enough, I didn’t move the adds close enough to AoE them, I didn’t move fast enough. You name it, Serennia probably yelled at me for it. Feeling defeated, I honestly almost quit raiding then and there.

After that experience, it took a lot to build up my confidence again. I joined another guild very well progressed, and ended up being one of their main tanks. I grew into that role, and got to experience what it was like to be in a constructive and fun guild environment that was still very progressed (Illidan down in August, I believe?). Within a month, I was the person people admired in major cities, with my sparkling pixels and my elite guild tag. But it all felt so surreal to me, even then. I couldn’t believe I had gone from a casual nobody to a hardcore main tank in a top US guild. I thought it was everything.

But then my schedule changed a year ago, and I created my own guild. I’m back to being a casual nobody again, but you know what? I was wrong. Being in a top guild, being admired for something as shallow as loot, it’s not everything I thought it was. Being in a guild where I know and love everyone, something that’s worth logging on for, that is what this game is for.

It took that entire three-year-journey for me to circle back and realize it, but I was right where I wanted to be from the beginning.



  1. A great point coming across at the end there! Loot isn’t everything, enjoy the game to it’s fullest extent. Some people like loot, I don’t think that makes them shallow, but I think bragging about it is what makes a player shallow. Find a group you have fun with and stick with em’! Everyone has there own aspect of the game which they enjoy the most. Some loot, some socializing, some do nothing but collect mounts/pets and that’s what makes this game fun! The ability to mold the game into whatever play style fits you best.

  2. Very cool. This is a great point about video games (and a lot of other things in life, like careers and money) – if it doesn’t make you happy, why do it?

    If being in a top-level guild is really what makes you happy, I say go for it. But otherwise, what’s the use? It’s your life, and it’s short enough as is. Video games are like desserts – if you’re not enjoying it, you’re Doing It Wrong, because that’s the only purpose they serve.

    By the way – if you could do it over again, do you think you would skip all that stuff and play it casual the whole time? Or was there some aspect of the experience you’d want to do again?

    • “By the way – if you could do it over again, do you think you would skip all that stuff and play it casual the whole time? Or was there some aspect of the experience you’d want to do again?”

      Well, first I must clarify my definition of being casual: I raid twice a week. I take raiding seriously when I do raid. With that icky word defined, I’ll answer yes, I’d still want to do it again. How would I know it was an environment I disliked without first experiencing it? 😛

      When I raided in bleeding edge progression guilds, it was about being the best and first to do things. My love for raiding hasn’t diminished any, but playing in those guilds wasn’t about raiding. I liked being someone important. With my current guild, I realized there are better reasons to raid and play this game. Raiding because you love getting bosses down with your friends is considerably more gratifying than raiding with strangers for six hours straight to get a first kill.

  3. There is quite a bit to respond to in here, but the part that stands out the most for me is your experience in a high-end raiding guild. When I first made the move to a true raiding guild, my only job was to grab two adds on Hydross, one add on Lurker, and some of the murlocs on Tidewalker.

    I would receive whispers mid-fight about off-the-wall stuff. Micromanagement was abundant. For me, my only real triumph was gathering up those murlocs on Tidewalker when I knew the other add tank was just going to wait around to consecrate near Morogrim. When I finally got to do the job alone, the experience was so invigorating.

    Having the ability to innovate and do things according to your own style seems to be an important aspect of tanking. I’m glad you moved on and experienced your true potential in another guild. I’ve never wanted to switch guilds (never mind the fact I’m holy now), but I do sympathize with your escape to a more hospitable locale.

  4. Ariedan,
    Just discovered your blog and enjoying the reading. As a female GM…in a guild with a female raid leader…strikes a cord I guess you could say (LOL our toons have the same graphic). Just wanted to tell you the last 2 paragraphs of this article I found particular well said. Our guild tries to focus on relationships and teamwork with the ever-challenging “casual raiding” progression. I know I often say loot is just pixels….everything in this game will one day go away, but the friendships formed can carry on to either RL or another MMO, so they are the ultimate thing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts via blog!


  5. Yes! Well said.


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