It is finally here…sort of. After months of relative silence regarding when WoW players could expect to call out of work for a week, the hush has been broken. Numerous sites are reporting today (this sounds like a 1950’s radio news broadcast, doesn’t it?) that Cataclysm is due to be released November 2, about two weeks after this year’s Blizzcon. Whether you are insanely excited or just absurdly excited about the impending cataclysm to our social lives, this is big news. With Cataclysm looming ominously on the horizon, what are your plans for the expansion? My history with WoW expansions is checkered to say the least. My experiences can both serve as a cautionary tale and a semi-hilarious anecdote of what to do – and not to do – and frankly there isn’t a lot going on in the WoW universe right now. So strap on your seatbelts and get ready to take a wild ride…
Back to the release of The Burning Crusade. I was a different player then, a *slightly* more insane player. My idea of casual raiding consisted of 3 nights a week of 6 hour, 40-man raids – and I didn’t raid casually, I raided hardcore. Five nights a week, 9 PM to 2 AM was not unusual for raiding. At best it was unhealthy; at worst it was – well – embarrassing. But that is where I was when “vanilla” WoW ended. I was in a destructive relationship with a game that had started to take more than it was giving back. Unfortunately for me, our guild decided to reroll characters on a new server that was debuting with the launch of BC – we were going to be the baddest “premade” guild in the game – or at least that was the plan. The new server meant a better chance at server firsts, and a chance to escape the guild rivalries that arose between Horde and Alliance guilds in vanilla WoW. It also meant we had to go from 1-70 as fast as humanly possible. A few of my personal friends were in the guild and actually lived nearby, close enough that we decided to take a week off and level like crazy together – the expansion fell perfectly in an off-time for my work, and I had just built a kick-ass new computer capable of tearing through WoW. In short, things were stacking up perfectly for the expansion – until I actually started playing.
My first mistake was my choice of character: a warrior. Don’t get me wrong warriors, I like your class, you just don’t level too quickly, and the release of BC correlated perfectly to the great warrior rage “normalization” experiment that resulted in our iron clad brothers-in-arms suffering from a digital case of impotence that no amount of Viagra could cure. My warrior couldn’t punch his way out of a paper bag if you whetted it first. It was bad. To compound matters further I was leveling with two players that too call them blitzed-out-of-their-mind-drunk would have been an insult to the sobriety of Irishmen in bars everywhere. They were “I am a rogue and I am not going to wear armor or weapons, and I am a mage that is going to accidentally aggro every pack of mobs I can see” drunk. Overall, it was not a level of sobriety conducive to leveling. (I should point out here that I consider both of these players friends, and generally like them, especially since one or both may read this and instantly recognize the story) I wanted to kill these two guys, I have never had a worse time leveling through Westfall as I did the first day of BC. In the end I wound up going on my own, at least until I could convince another friend, then playing a hunter to join me. Unfortunately the damage was already done – I was behind in the leveling curve. But I had a solution; I figured if I could just avoid sleeping I could catch up to the pack. And it worked, for a while. I was drinking Red Bulls like they were water and drinking water, well, never. I was a man on a mission and I wasn’t going to let a little thing like sleep stop me from realizing my dreams of getting to level 70 at the head of the leveling class.
I couldn’t keep it up though (I have disturbingly inserted a running impotence metaphor into this article). Eventually the Red Bull, mounting dehydration, and lack of sleep caught up with me. It was right around Razorfen Kraul – I was tabbed to tank the instance for a small group of eager levelers. There was just one problem – I had lost all feeling in my hands. Literally. For the life of me I couldn’t tell if my hand was on top of the mouse without looking down at it. But that was just the beginning. By halfway through the instance (which I am sure I was tanking horribly) I started feeling heavy thumps in my chest, which if I wasn’t so delirious at the time would have recognized as some serious heart beats – the kind that you get after sprinting 400 yards, except I was sitting still. By the end of the instance all I saw on my monitor was a child’s face smiling at me occasionally punctuated by explosions. I have no idea why I saw a child’s face or where the explosions were coming from but, I can assure you that nowhere in RFK is there a giant child’s face that fills your screen. I was hurting – bad. I don’t fully remember how (most of my memories around this time are shaky at best) but I made my way to a bed after that instance and fell asleep. I never really enjoyed leveling after I woke up. A week later I learned I had developed a deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in my leg. I am not certain that it was connected to my 43 hours of straight WoW, but I feel like the chances are pretty good. In the end (after a week long stay in the hospital) I was fine – and I still play WoW – although I don’t think I will ever try to pull off something like that again.