This being late 2005, first had come and gone a few times. The black dragon Onyxia was dead a thousand times over, as was Ragnaros the Firelord. The Dragoons only visited those two to “farm,” slog through 2-6 hours of fighting they'd slogged through for half a year, just to reach that one last bountiful fight, with its weekly harvest of two always-random, always-coveted items. My very first week, each just happened to be Druid items, my items. The most powerful hat and pants in the game. My first week. None of the more senior Druids needed them. And should you, oh dear reader, think that hats and pants are trifle things, that this is all just a bit silly, do consider these things were valued at about a hundred bucks each. They were, at the time, the aforementioned “game actualizing rewards.” And since those mighty monsters had been guarding Druid-based treasure, it meant that the comparable items for Shamans, Warriors, and so on (and everyone else who'd been in the guild for substantially longer than a week) did not “drop.” That is to say, didn’t magically arrive – fitted and ready-to-wear – at the feet of the monster. After some choice refrains as to my sexual preference, expectations for attendance and punctuality were made crystal clear.
“You ass belongs to Eternity Dragoons now, faggot,” said the guild master.
The gear is what makes the World of Warcraft endgame such an ingenious and ingenuous grind. From the first level to the last, you go from maybe a few hundred hit points, to many thousands. And there’s nearly always better gear, to make those numbers higher. Likewise, your damage, ability to heal, and armor are sometimes improved exponentially, if the right hat and pants drop this week.
Usually, it was just a handful of the most snarling badass players out of our 40 – wearing the fanciest of gear – who were doing the lion’s share of the damage, healing, and tanking. Some days I’d never see them sleep. They’d be out in the snows of Winterspring, collecting powerful oils from the anal glands of invisible white tigers, or luring out great white sharks in Azshara, with questionably-gotten chum. Or just grinding for the latest hot item, for good ole’ gold. So when I got these hugely coveted items in my first week, my relative inexperience maybe mattered less. It’s just that somewhat more was expected of me.