I was pissed, I was hurt and I believed I was the best and wanted to prove it. Thus did my hardcore career truly begin. After having been kicked out of a guild I had poured all my heart into and feeling betrayed by some RL friend I went into hiding and rolled an undead rogue named Draazel after my first serious WoW character. Even if I was lacking any real 40 man raiding experience, I was determined to clear all the raids and prove that I was the best rogue ever.
It also helped that when this all went down I was beginning my last session and that I had next to no classes. I had a total of one class a day for our end project. Since me and my group were making rapid progress, I had no more than a few hours of class in the morning which meant lots of time to play WoW. Without realizing, I started playing between 8 to 11 hours a day… more on the weekends.
Getting back to 60 when you play upwards of 8 hours a day can be accomplished pretty fast. Within two weeks if I remember correctly I was level 60 again and began the hunt for that perfect hardcore guild which I discovered, wasn’t going to be easy. For starters, rogues were not a prime class for raiding teams at the time so I had that going against me. But the real hurdle was getting geared. Prime raiding guilds back in the day had people line up to join them and the requirements to join were pretty steep. Top gear, top attendance and a willingness to put up with a good amount of abuse were standard requirements. I had no problem with attendance or being yelled at but gear was another matter.
So I did what I had always despised up to that point, join guilds to get geared and then jump ship. The first guild I joined was a new guild that had just started working on Molten Core, they needed bodies and I needed gear so it was a match made in heaven. Between raids, I was putting together daily UBRS runs with anyone I could find so I could get geared faster and also with the intent of meeting players with the hope one could be a door into a future raiding home. I stayed in that first guild for close to a month. By then I had gotten all the gear I could use out of UBRS, had gotten a two epics in MC and I had all the fire resist gear I could get at that point. We were struggling on Baron Geddon and I didn’t want to have to wait so one morning at the gaming witching hour (6AM) I left the guild and went in search of a guild that could actually clear MC.
I didn’t make friends by leaving but luckily for me I did manage to find a second guild rapidly by following another raider who was tired of wiping on Geddon. We joined up with a group working on Ragnaros and while it was not MC clears, it was a step-up. Again, I stayed there for a month or so, got many more drops and even cleared Ragnaros with them. Later we hit a stumbling block with Vael and again, I quit.
That pattern would repeat for a while with me joining a guild, getting some gear and then leaving as soon as I felt we were hitting a wall. By then I was starting to get a reputation as a guild jumper but also as a good rogue, which is what mattered to the high-end guilds I wanted to join.
The anvil and the hammer
Ahn’Quiraj was looming close and by then I was getting pretty geared. I still had no clear of BWL but I had seen all the bosses and had gotten most of the gear so I felt it was time to join up with the top guildson my server, Anvil. However, joining Anvil wasn’t going to be like I was used to. For starters, they had only a single rogue on the raiding roster and the spot was taken. Second, only raiders were invited in the actual guild, prospects had to join a second-hand guild named Hammer. Hammer was made up of Anvil raider’s alts and prospective members and the roster was a fast changing one. If they felt you couldn’t make it in Anvil you were cut from Hammer and most people I saw join were cut. On top of that, you had to be available as replacement for any Anvil raid which meant you had to be available for both guilds raids. And by replacement I mean waiting at the door of the raid so you could be called in at any moment to replace someone. Failure to have perfect attendance in either raid meant a swift kick. Getting into Hammer wasn’t easy either. I was interviewed, quizzed and tested in every raid just to get in the feeder guild.
It sounds insane and it was insane but it was what was required back then to join a server first guild. Hours of waiting outside raids just to get a chance to prove you could do it. I stayed two months in Hammer, a record for a non-raider alt but since there was a single rogue spot, not completely surprising. Then, the week before the AQ patch dropped, I got my chance. The resident rogue had decided to skip a raid for some reason I can’t remember and I was brought in BWL to replace him. It wasn’t the first time I had replaced someone but usually it was some other dps, not the rogue. We cleared place in record time and I thought that it was again a once in a while thing. The following day the raid leader sent me a tell telling me to quit Hammer and that I was moving up to Anvil.
It was one of the greatest feelings I ever had.
As to the other rogue I heard he got the boot simply because I did better than him. I didn’t take as much damage as he did and I did a bit more dps so he was sent to the void of the guildless without so much as a warning.
Insane in the membrane
I’ve struggling to write this part because honestly, life in a server-fist type of guild is both simple and complex at the same time. In many aspects it’s exactly like any other kind of guild with the drama, the nice people, the assholes, the inside jokes and anything else you’ve experienced in any guild you’ve been part of. For the longest time I had all these ideas about what it would be like to be in a guild like that and to find out it was just like any other guild I’ve been part of was both a relief and a letdown.
But you don’t get to do server first without something setting you apart and that something was commitment to the game. The commitment to WoW from every member of the guild was insane, downright unhealthy. Most people were playing anywhere between 8 and 12 hours a day and when not playing, were thinking about WoW or researching the game. We had one member datamining the code to find out boss mechanics or how to edge more dps. We would in turn serve as target dummies so people could practice rotation while others watched the fights so they could gather data. Someone else even claimed he worked at a bar where Blizzard employees would go and he would offer them extra drinks so he could loosen their tongues and get extra info. I still have doubts over that one but who knows.
So I could go over the minutiae of high end raiding and talk about the thrills of each first kill and the hate we had toward our rivals. How we tried to sabotage one another, how a certain someone would hack rival guilds forums to access their strats or subtly change raid times to mess them up. We were insane, simple as that and we did get that AQ40 server first…
And then half the guild left the following morning. Killing C’Thun was the most anticlimactic moment of my entire WoW journey. We had played non-stop since the patch release to open the doors of AQ, kill the bosses and claim that server first that now that it was done… it felt empty. Like we were blinded by the race and suddenly we realized what we had done. Sure there was that short moment of elation, like 15 seconds of woooo!! and then… silence.
I distinctly remember logging off that night, completely bewildered, going to bed and not logging until the weekly raid reset. I didn’t even check the forums to see the obligatory victory picture. Then I logged back in to find a ghost town, half the guild was simply gone. I could have stayed or joined another high end guild but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I couldn’t see myself putting in that much time again just so I could claim to be “the best”.