Wow! What a cheesy title. Guess I’m off to a good start. Best not to judge a book by it’s cover though (or in this case, title) so let’s see if I can keep this going. So here goes nothing (or everything)…
Perhaps a little introduction is in order. Hi, I’m Saddlebutt! You can find me trotting about on Argent Dawn doing Gnome Death Knight-y things, but I’m also known as a legion of characters starting with Magna- on Darkmoon Faire/Earthen Ring, such as Magnadon, Magnakan, Magnadonna… the list goes on! As I write this I’m ramming away on my slowly-dying laptop, the keyboard battered and beaten after nearly a decade of World of Warcrafting. Writing it like this makes me feel old. Very, very old! I can’t believe it’s nearly been a decade – even harder to believe I first was introduced to this game as a thirteen year old boy. Man was I new to the gaming world…
I was thirteen, and the last game I had played was Tibia. To those not aware what it is, I think it can be compared to Runescape, only… I dunno, 2d sprite-y? It was all the rage in my town back then. All dem youngsters were playin’ it! But there I was, nailed to the floor as a friend of mine logged in on his WoW account at his place. The first thing he did was show me something that would be the red line in the next ten years of gaming: the cinematic of World of Warcraft. At first sight, I was sold. The dramatic intro, the introduction into a world of magic and mystery, and that Tauren… I knew at that moment it would always be a Tauren for me. To date I now have over seven Taurens of different classes with yet more lined up to be leveled. Call me mad, call me crazy, call me a bovine-loving peanutbutter-jellytime Minotaur gone Plainsrunning. I’m just going to stare at the Tauren Shaman figurine standing next to me, overlooking my every action, and know I’m right.
Regardless, I had a blast those first few minutes as my friend allowed me so graciously to roll a new character (“alt”, he was quick to correct me) and watched over my first few steps into Mulgore. Much confusion was to be had. “Why can’t I place things on the ground while I wrestle with my inventory space?!”, and the paniced few seconds as I almost deleted my first two-handed axe. “Wait, why can’t I equip an axe and shield at the same time?!”, realizing the axe was two-handed. Yeah, looking back, I was a pretty big noob back then. However, I quickly left my roots in Mulgore to set out to explore the world. And with every zone, with every new village, I experienced that feeling that for me makes World of Warcraft so very impressive. The thrill of seeing a new zone or location, the adrenaline and having to fight the urge not to zerg and rush through everything to get sucked in and let it just hit you like a waterfall. Of course, it was not to be. At some point I’d have to give him his PC back, of course. Mind you by now I was hogging his machine for two hours easily, and I still can’t believe he so patiently allowed me to play. I think he was reliving those first few hours of a game all over again. Kindred spirits.
Regardless, when I came home, all I could was think about World of Warcraft, and my Tauren. Back in the days we had an old hand-me-down from my father’s work. I believe it could run Roadrash with some effort. I believe we could even surf the web on that machine. Course, it wouldn’t do at all. Oh no. I needed more muscle! More power! So I started pleading. The contents of my wallet, bank-account, and the small stash of money I’d been saving for some time (and trust me, I was HORRIBLE at saving back then) were offered up on the battlefield of pleading and discussions (read: kitchentable) and many promises were made. I promised to clean, do the laundry, and occasionally cook. I got a job as paperboy. And I had to promise to stop scarying my little sister with darts (long story – she still has a scar – accidently I swear!). But with the support of my parents, I suppose even they realized we could use a new pc, we bought a new one not so long later. Along with it came a box of World of Warcraft (it’s still lying around here somewhere, ragged and much loved, like the manual, re-read a dozen times).
And I was sold. I spend most of that first month exploring a fascinating, amazing world, grinding together enough gold to get my mount – I was sick of running around for fourty levels. I was wearing greenies twenty levels behind, I had a horrible spec and was probably using all the wrong skills, but the truth is, when I think back of those days, I think back of them fondly. Sure, those Defias casters ate me for breakfast. Sure, Hogged drank my sweat and tears. Sure, I had to borrow money to get my first mount. But it was all so damn worth it. When I think back of that time I still get goosebumps a little bit. As a kid I really did experience games in a different way as I do now. I could get sucked in, not noticing people were talking to me, let alone notice I was hungry. For those first few months, I lived that game.
Of course, everything changed. Alts were rolled, a keyboard with an actual wire was purchased, and it was around this time I made my first Tauren drawing, something that still happens nowadays. Come to think of it, there are a lot of Taurens to be found drawn all troughout my school books and papers… Oh, well! But as I continued to play, I leveled more, maxed professions (and that was actually pretty hard back in the day – all that Thorium!), made my first few alts, explored the world, revelled at those fair few on epic mounts wearing raid gear (something I could never do with my time limits, young age, and of course being an utter noob). I spend my fair share of time looking up pictures of raid gear, drawing my characters in those outfits. Dreadnought gear still makes me melt a little. Reminds me I should start saving money for the BMAH… but I digress!
And then came the Burning Crusade. I soaked up the news and images like a sponge. New races! A new continent! New raids! A magical world slowly breaking apart after catastrophic portal use! Mind = blown. Every few days they’d release a new page in the bestiary, or show a new zone. Every zone got me yearning towards that expansion more and more. And then the day came. I actually went to a midnight release party at a local gaming story to get my copy. Waiting in line, everyone buzzing with enthousiasm, and going home with a box clutched tightly against my chest in the silly plastic bag. I didn’t sleep that night. Of course, thanks to the immense amount of players trying to log in, I didn’t play either, but that didn’t stop me from daydreaming. It was a day later I got in, and man did it drag me right back to the first days of WoW. Sure I was a little older but that thrill I was looking for was back. The surge, the energy, the unstoppable drive to go forward and finish the entire continent in one massive frenzy… I missed it, and I loved welcoming it back.
I didn’t actually get to level 70 for another few months. But perhaps the most iconic thing happened when I made my way into Terokar Forest. I was questing about, until someone asked for help with a group quest. Of course, I still needed to do the quest myself, so a group was formed and a Tauren Shaman and a scrawny Blood Elf Priest set out to go bash some heads in. We did the group quest, with a few wipes included, and patted ourself on the shoulder. However, it didn’t stop there – we decided to level together a bit. One quest became a dozen, one zone became all of the remaining zones until we both got to 70. We cleared Terokkar of the bird people (arakkoa), we saved Nagrand from it’s various threats, including other players of that crazy Alliance, we ventured into Shadowmoon (man, what a zone!) and fought our way to the steps of the Black Temple itself. Of course, we never expected we’d set foot in there, ever. And we nearly didn’t.
But we would. After a few weeks of leveling together, he invited me into his guild, something I had never bothered with before. I never really met the right people, and never got an invite before. But I accepted, and before I knew it, I was part of the Dark Elders of Darkmoon Faire, led by none other than Necrohoof, a mighty Tauren Warrior in T4 holding the Lionheart Executioner. And boy did he look smashing. He even helped me out with some group quests in Zangarmarsh a few times. Great guy, real ace. But of course, he was raiding, I wasn’t. It went like that for a week or so until they came up one pair of hands short for Gruul, the Dragonkiller. I franticly tried to alt-tab between tactic pages and the game while flying there on the Flight Path, wondering if I’d do well.
Well, I didn’t. I died, a lot. And then some more. And then I got dragged Magtheridon’s Lair, and Karazhan. And I got my first taste of raiding. And it was intoxicating. With two pieces of raid gear, I felt invulnerable. I felt amazing, and not only that, I looked smashing. T4 is still one of my favourite Shaman tiers, even all these years later. The next months were a haze of grinding PvP to get some epics (man, those maces. So pretty.), raiding (read: getting boosted), having my first introduction to using a headset online, and more raiding. And getting yelled at for buying the cheapest white gems from the vendor in Thrallmar instead of actual decent gems. …I was poor, okay?!
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. I cheered as Vashj died. I cheered as Kael’thas died. I whimpered as we set foot into the Black Citadel. And I think I nearly had a heartattack when Illidan died. I made friends. I made enemies (and nearly got kicked out of the guild in the process). I killed, conquered, and enjoyed a game in and out. Some of those people are still part of my online community, people I talk to on a daily basis. Raids came, raids went, expansions came, expansions went. But ever since Dark Elders, friends have been the red line in my bigger red line. Gaming wasn’t fun anymore without cool people to chat to. And so it went – every day I logged in, I was hoping certain people would be online so I could chat and laugh the night away. I grew older, Wrath of the Lich King came and went. By now we were a fairly solid raid team – of course, we had our ups and downs, but we got there in the end. We saw the King put down. We claimed Shadowmourne. We survived the Cataclysm and brought Deathwing to meet his end. We conquered, vanquished, looted and had a blast. Pandaria was discovered, the Sha were beaten. Garrosh was first cheered on, then spat on, and eventually beaten, put in chains, dragged to his trial, only to vanish into Draenor to introduce a new story, a new world. A homecoming, of sorts, to one of the most impressive expansions ever. To something that left an incredible mark on me.
Things changed. I became less of a noob and more a person who knows what he’s doing. Most of the time. TLPD was captured. So was the Phosporescent Drake. The list grew – achievements, outfits, Feats of Strength, weapons, friends. I will continue to cherish many of these, and I’ll carry them with me for a long time to come.
Dark Elders changed leaders. Eventually, I stepped up and became their leader in the chaotic months of Pandaria. We merged with another guild from Earthen Ring after the server merge to form Warborn, and we are ready for the Warlords. We’re coming for those orcs, gronn, and everything we can throw at them, and I’m sure we’ll conquer as we did expansions before. And I’m sure we’re going to have a blast while doing it. I raise my glass to everyone who’ll join me in Draenor, friend, foe, or unknown – let’s make the next two years amazing.
I would still, however, shamelessly give a shout out to some friends throughout the decennia:
-Everyone in Twilight Hammer, Dark Elders, Warborn, or who’s spend time with me in a good way in the past ten years
-Everyone I forgot (I really did meet a LOT of people)
Signed, Magnadon of Darkmoon Faire/Saddlebutt of Argent Dawn.