With the recent Blizzard Dev Watercooler post about bringing back WOW Classic and the 1.12 Drums of War patch, I find myself wanting to jump back into WOW. Considering that I hadn’t played the game since Burning Crusade, it’s been a while. My life at that time had little room for gaming in general, and I couldn’t keep raiding with my friends.

I remember the early days, leveling up to 60, getting my epic mounts, learning how to play warrior, leveling up alchemy, etc. Despite what most people thought of warriors, we didn’t just hit sunder to tank everything, we hit heroic strike and rend as well. While it was true that during patch 1.4 and 1.5, there was not very much content, compared to other MMOs at the time, it had more than enough. What quests there were, had town hubs and the infamous exclamation points and question marks easily marked out who had an quest to do. Most infamous was leveling up in the Barrens. Horde players spent an enormous amount of time in the Barrens, it was nearly twice the size of most other zones. Leveling in other zones was interesting and fun, but the Barrens nearly always brought you back, whether it was Booty Bay, or yet another Alliance PVP skirmish at the Crossroads.

Some of the best times of my life were playing this game with like-minded friends. There was a community that was build on each server in this game. There was no dungeon or raid tracker, you had to get out of your shell and ask for others to group with you, and all the human interaction that went along with that. Players developed reputations as good teammates, fair players, and helped along those who were struggling. Those players heavily outweighed what bad apples made a particular instance run unbearable. If you wanted to invest any amount of time with the level 60 content, you had to be amicable to be around, or just that damned good at the game to warrant your attitude and even then, that only took you so far.

I would say I was very fortunate, when I approached level 60. I had made the best choice in picking an Orc Warrior, and I was a fairly decent tank. I had made friends that I met in dungeons earlier, that were great tanks, healers and dps. We taught each other how our classes worked so we understood each others’ strengths and limitations. I had acquaintances that were *very* good tanks and showed me the ropes of what I needed to do mechanically, and what stats to look for in becoming a viable raid tank. Most of the beginner tank gear was super expensive to purchase, but before the Defense stat nerfing, I was able to get away with using a majority of Deathbone gear to pad myself until I found actual tier gear, or managed to grab Might gear. At the very least, I was able to snag a position as the designated guild off-tank.

There were other guilds that had been moving through Molten Core and early Blackwing Lair, our guild was a bit of a late comer to the raiding scene, but we were all rather new level 60s and three small guilds decided to try Molten Core on a lark to see what raiding was all about. That first night, we snagged Lucifron and Magmadar and we were blown away. While we knew each other in passing, we couldn’t believe that just a bunch of random people just clicked as a raid group and took down the starting bosses on their first night. And that first five hour session lead to many many others.

We were new on the raiding scene, but we made a name for ourselves as being one of the more competent, chill guilds in our server. For many a guild leader, it was like herding cats, but somehow our group just went easy. It probably helped that most of us were in our early twenties so there was some mote of responsibility and maturity in the guild leaders and most of the core group. I give supreme gratitude to those guys and girls for putting up with close to 60 or 70 other players with hopes and desires in raiding. Part of our success was in cultivating a proper mindset to raiding. You had to want to be there to raid. The gear was secondary, or at least, you curbed your desire for it. I’ll admit, many people didn’t see raiding our way and we wished them good luck, but we found like-minded players and really good ones at that who were willing to put the guild ahead of their own desires so that they could see and conquer the next challenge.

And so for a couple years, we raided Molten Core, Zul’Gurub, Blackwing Lair, and Ahn’Qiraj before I had to leave. I remember Brashnard’s little decent into madness as he created a dodge tanking rogue, and it worked. I remember giving Akiro some beef about his Canadian accent and he returned the favor because at the time, I pronounced ‘shaw man’ as ‘shay man’. Seven and Obit were priests that were damn good, and they *loved* their job as healers, don’t ask me why they never burned out. Desimuss and Kirkmeyer were beastly warriors with that lantern post of a sword from Zul’Gurub. Bejou and Garret were great hunters, and of course, Bob, because we couldn’t pronounce his character name. I remember Mahakunek, Glassjaw and Kiz, Grimmus, Koflach, Hlarsen, Indeathinite, and the myriad others not just for meeting up every week to run the dungeon of the week, but because WOW was a meeting place to hop on and talk with people about their day and what they were up to outside of the game.

This played out much the same for many others on many different servers. I miss that most of all from WOW. I am well aware of this little rambling down memory lane and it will be nigh impossible to recapture the exact feelings of comraderie and community from then, but if Classic can recapture even a small shred of that, I’d think it would be a definite success story for Blizzard.

Benjamin Lehman

I am an avid gamer. I play World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and other video games, I also enjoy watching Overwatch eSports and livestreams. I am Blizzplanet’s PAX West correspondent.