Lesson 1: Don’t Curse of Agony the raid of ??? players.
In my defense, all I knew was that several ugly-looking dwarves were killing the questgivers at Sepulcher, and challenging the might of the glorious horde that my warlock had so recently joined. After all, the introductory cutscene said I hated all life, here was a great chance to exterminate some of it…
In the next few minutes, I discovered that fears could fizzle, and that I could be one-shot by abilities I’d never heard of. I seem to remember it being red, and shooting in my general direction. (I’d claim this was my first encounter with res timers, but that’d be a lie.) Apparently, being level 16ish wasn’t such a bit deal.
Lesson 2: Let somebody else get hit
Soon after my ill-fated attempt to defend the honor of the horde, my friends and I rerolled on a PvP server. To this day, nobody will take the blame for this decision, particularly after an alt is ganked in world pvp.
I’d seen a cheetah while leveling my warlock. (This was the days when mounts were at level 40.) He ran circles around me. I discovered I couldn’t Immolate my own side. I rerolled druid. See! I was learning!
After 30-ish levels of swinging a mace at things because I didn’t know what I was doing, I went to Hillsbrad Foothills. I’d been told to avoid Tauren Mill because of the ganking, and I figured that waiting 5 or so levels should make it safe.
Just outside of TM, I saw two lines of players. It looked like red rover.
Becoming more familiar with the ghost-effects of WoW (the music I remember most fondly from my early days in the game), I discovered healing in pvp. It ruled. I could just stand behind our side, heal them, and then people were really happy with me. And we won. Bonus points for being resto, which I happened to be leveling as.
(Much, much later, when bgs were added – AV was first, right? – I was this really annoying resto druid in the back of the zerg, healing everyone up, stepping out to mana, and going back in. I still only pvp as resto.
Lesson 3: Moose antlers are pro
Fast-forward another 30 levels of casterform mace swinging + running to the ends of Azeroth to heal. Within a half hour of hitting 60, someone I’d healed through Blackrock Depths told me about raiding, said they didn’t have a druid, and asked if I was willing to go.
And so I wandered into MC.
Nobody knew what to do. We discovered that dogs respawn on 30 minute timers… about the same time that we’d pulled a molten giant, a destroyer, and one of those annoying fire-cloning-spawn things.
(Oh, the glorious days when a hunter pulling was a good thing.)
Somehow, hours of very long corpse runs resulted in our running into Lucifron. Lucifron, seeing us, uttered a few light curses. Or maybe it was magic. I forget. Either way, we all died.
Weeks of such runs later, we had the strategy down. We had farmed dungeons for gear. I’d raided UBRS often enough to have several arguments I never actually cared about over who got the silly hide that never dropped anyway. I think we recruited extra warlocks – we now had 6, and somehow that helped?
Vent goes wild.
I – the only druid – get the Cenarion Boots.
This, by the way, was the first epic I’d ever seen drop. I mean, I’d only seen a handful of raiders with epics. We all heard rumors about players that were decked – decked meaning 3 maybe 4 epics. I felt elite. Here was my sign to the world that these evil flame snake things would not pour out and destroy my beloved Azeroth. I, a mighty druid, would undo the evil dwarven mischief.
I wanted a RP server, can you tell?
For the next several months, every time we’d down a boss, it’d drop the cenarion set. (Ok, Ony dropped my moose helm, but you get the point). This was amazing the first time, funny up to the 4th time, and after that just upsetting.
But dangit, I was most stylish cow covered with twigs and antlers you’d ever seen.
Lesson 4: If the tank dies, just charge the giant swirl of lava
Somehow, despite all our mistakes (and a 30 minute wait for a healer to return from afk just before Majordomo that I can still remember) we got to Ragnaros, a few weeks later.
Rag [me] v Rag [evil fire swirl].
The epic battle.
We’ll just skip the weeks of wipes. We got stuck here.
During these weeks, I was chatting with one of my favorite druids in the game. He, like me, was a token druid in another guild, and so didn’t have many people to talk with about our shared love of nature and Cenarius. We both resented spec’ing for innervate, only to use it on a priest. He tried out feral, a spec I’d maybe put a couple points in once by mistake, and told me the wonders of being a functional bear.
Ok, back to the other Rag.
One day, everything clicked. Submerges were handled. DPS backed away before knockbacks. But – of course – somehow the tank died. Our melee started to be decimated.
Remembering what my friend had told me about being a bear, I promptly shifted into bearform, ran to the angry swirl of doom, and growled angrily “GRRRR”.
He then punted me into the air, where I died roughly on eyelevel with the boss.
Only one Rag died that day. But that image – of a super angry bear flying through the air and dying in a desperate attempt to save it all – captures everything I loved about raiding in Vanilla, and being a druid.
Lesson 5: Don’t vendor the legendary
Eventually, we became pretty good at MC. MC turned to farm status, and we moved onto BWL. (A raid where half my deaths came from bored warlocks using the Eye of Kilrogg to aggro the first boss. Oy.)
One day, on a farm run, a binding dropped.
As a druid, I’d never bothered much with looking up loot. If it dropped, and a druid could use it, I got it. Yay for being unique. So I had no clue what the bindings were for, and looked them up. After discovering that everything in the world was hunter loot (oh thottbot commenters, I miss you…) This was the only result i remember:
To this day, I listen to that music, and become thrilled. I’ve never had another WoW video inspire me the way this has.
Our MT eventually formed Thunderfury – though it took seemingly forever. Being something of a lush, one day he either deleted it, or vendored it (never quite clear on that). Thankfully, Blizzard item restored it to him…
… but ever since then, when a legendary is awarded, we first ask about any possible vendoring plans