Zero to Kael in 28 Days

If you’ve read much that I’ve written for World of Matticus, you know that I have raided with two Priests. This is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down – and how I went from die-hard, shiny alliance to being the proudest, loudest, and dirtiest Troll. My Human had been my main for over a year – Renwein was leveled up rather slowly, alongside dear friends that I met along the way. She has a depth of experience that isn’t often found in ‘toons rolled after Burning Crusade – I lovingly collected all the keys in the game, except the Outhouse key, and ran every old-world instance except Naxx. So why give up a character into which I’d invested so much time? Raiding. Bosskilling is my anti-drug. When I came back to the game in 2007, I didn’t realize what “recommended” meant when I picked my server, and I didn’t realize how much I would LOVE the challenge of end-game raiding. The problem started when I realized how the small community on my server worked against my Illidan-killing aspirations.

Think about it: out of a TOTAL server population of 4,000, the allies were outnumbered about 5:1. (I saw one estimate that said 9:1) Which gave us 667 people. About 300 of those were level 70. Finding 25 people talented and dedicated enough to raid towards end-game is hard enough – you have to manage personalities, play-styles, schedules, and real-life. Getting the right mix of classes added another level of complexity. On Darrowmere, the top Ally guild exclusively speaks Spanish. This works well for them, but also took another bite out of the available pool willing to raid in other guilds. Looking back, it’s a miracle that we made it to Vashj and Kael at all.

Hordeside was slightly different – their population dwarfed ours, and an ambitious guild called Death is Eternal had transferred over with their sights set on Illidan. On such a small server, it’s impossible not to get to know at least names and faces of the opposing faction, but we went a little farther and swapped vent information. I found out later that this Horde guild hoped that helping Ally progression would make it easier for them to recruit from other servers – PvP servers lose some appeal if the Allies aren’t even a challenge to gank. So they critiqued our wws, watched our fraps, and occasionally came in on a borrowed character. But small-server drama took over, and while the Allies were busy re-shuffling the same players through guild mergers and disintegrations, this Horde guild stayed busy killing bosses. When my guild collapsed yet again under the weight of egos and primadonnas, and the GM got his orders to ship out to Iraq, I knew I couldn’t handle another re-build. One old friend had transferred to a larger server, and asked me to follow. But a different offer came from an unexpected source:

If you can level and gear up to be there when we kill Kael, you can raid with Death is Eternal.

DiE had Vashj on farm at this point. They were down to weekly 10-minute kills, and were working steadily on Kael. This was right before Thanksgiving, and the GM estimated that with their upcoming Holiday Break, I had about 28 days to roll a new Priest, level her, and get her geared enough to be an asset. He didn’t need to point out that her final exam would be one of the hardest fights in the game – in a guild that had developed a reputation as exacting, unforgiving, and with a previously strict no-girls-allowed policy.

If I wanted to see endgame, I had two options – leave a server where I knew practically everyone, or work like a madwoman to re-create and surpass everything I’d worked so hard for on Renwein. The next day, I bought my second copy of Warcraft, and rolled my first Horde. One benefit of already having a Priest was an appreciation of the impact of racial abilities on end-game raiding. I chose a Troll – mostly for Berserking – and began the grind. I wasn’t even allowed to carry the guild tag – “Not until you’re 70,” was the GM’s final answer.

So I listened quietly on vent while DiE continued to farm Vashj and learn Kael, and ground quests every day after work and all day on weekends. I wasn’t shy about asking for help, and the Horde players I knew ran me through lowbie instances and helped with quests anytime they weren’t busy. The most unexpected thing was all the help I received from DiE’s Raid Leader. A Tauren Warrior known for his no-nonsense approach to raids, he was a database for every quest in every zone. His brain was like WoWhead on vent, and any time he wasn’t raiding he helped me in every way he could.

About two weeks into my grind, DiE took a week and a half off for the holidays. When I hit 69, the GM and Raid Leader asked me about my progress. I had farmed the Kara attunement chain up to needing instance runs, had saved up enough gold for my regular flying mount, and begun the quest chains for my Hyjal and Black Temple attunements.

They complimented me on my hard work, and told me they had a few Christmas presents for me. The first was an invitation into the guild – the first female and non-70 admitted to Death is Eternal. The second was a full block of runs through the instances I needed for my Karazhan attunement. (Which ding’d me 70.) The final was the materials I was missing for my Primal Mooncloth Set, the Pattern and Mats for Boots of the Long Road, the Belt of the Long Road, and both Whitemend pieces. The Raid Leader had coordinated the effort and farmed the majority of the mats, and the whole guild had pitched in cooldowns, nethers, and vortices.

“You still have to earn your spot.” They told me. “And this gear isn’t good enough for Kael.” So we did two full Kara clears in two days, and as many ZA’s as possible before formal raids started again. Because they had farmed SSC and TK for so long, very few pieces of gear were needed by any healers – and I was now their only Holy Priest.

I was incredibly lucky – the help I received, and the incredible drop rate for the upgrades I needed made the unlikely speed of my progression possible. I hit lvl 70 in just under 9 days played, and I was #2 on the healing meters for the server first kill of Kael’thas on my 12th day played – exactly a month in real-time after my account went active. On Wynthea’s 15th day we killed Rage Winterchill and headed into Black Temple.

I sometimes log onto Renwein to run a weekend ZA with old friends, or just to catch up with people in Shat. I appreciate so much of the old-world content, and it still makes me sad that Wynthea’s lore-base is so shallow, but my decision to raid Hordeside was the best I could’ve made. Even after Death is Eternal parted ways, I kept in touch with a lot of the members. Most of us are working through Sunwell – all of us are looking forward to WotLK.

I’m sure this is more than you ever wanted to know about my WoW-experience, but I wanted to introduce my point of view a little more. The thing to remember is that if you really want to achieve something in the game, take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves – even if it sometimes means starting from scratch to reach an impossible goal with an even worse deadline. Luv, Wyn

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