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.