I have decided that it’s time to hang up my hunter blogger hat, and let the torch pass on to a new generation of hunter bloggers.
I started the WHU back at the end of BC, in 2008. Since then I’ve written over 1,500 posts about hunters in WoW on the WHU, seen expansions come and go, and watched the awesome WHU community grow into something I never dreamed of. Hunters from around the world have come to discuss the latest in hunter news (over 40,000 comments), meet up in-game and work together to make awesome events, and on occasion even meet up in person at the WHU BBQs or Blizzcon. And at times the community has joined together to help sway opinions and, I daresay, change the development of the class for the better.
I am incredibly grateful to have had the chance to be a part of this amazing community, and I feel very lucky to have fallen in with this crowd. But all good things, no matter how awesome, must come to an end. While the shine and joy of World of Warcraft hunters lives on in my heart, the shine of blogging about it has dimmed. I’m ready to give my blogging time over to other pursuits and spend more of my WoW time playing the game, and less of it in front of the target dummies. Well, a little less anyway.
I am retiring from hunter blogging with nothing but good memories and love of hunters in my heart. For something that really started as a SEO experiment platform, the WHU grew into something pretty incredible.
I still remember the excitement the first time the site got a comment from someone not in my guild (Clan Shado, back then). And the first time I got an email was thrilling. I remember talking with Arust and Hrist about the progress of the site and the incredible, unbelievable moment when the site started averaging a thousand visitors a day. A day! Of course over time the site would come to average over 25,000 visitors a day, and spiked as high as nearly 80,000 in a single day (something to do with the beginning of Cataclysm, or the pre-cata patch, I think).
I also remember the first time someone whispered me in game asking, “Are you the Frostheim? From Warcraft Hunters Union?” That was unbelievable. Of course that eventually became nearly a daily occurrence, along with receiving in-game mail, but it was those first times that I really remember, that really knocked me off my feet.
On Being Frostheim
They say you have to have a thick skin to post stuff on the internet, and I suppose that’s true. But I have to say that being Frostheim has never been a bad thing, and has often been good. I’ve never been overwhelmed by the trolls or creepily stalked, or sent anything other than delightful items from kind-hearted fans.
Every now and then I’d even have inexplicable real life moments where someone recognized me and awesomeness ensued.
A recent story that I’ve never told happened at my new job. As you guys know, I moved across country recently for a new gig a couple months back. My boss wanted to send out an intro email to relevant people and asked me for some background stuff. So I said that I liked backpacking and photography and was a World of Warcraft blogger known as Frostheim. Shortly after my boss sent out the email, someone responded asking, “Wait, are you Frostheim from the WHU? That was my main source of hunter information for all of Wrath! If that’s you, that would be awesome!”
I told my boss that I was recognized and showed him the email.
Boss: “Wait, he really read your blog??”
Frostheim: “Yep, the WHU is my blog. Do you know who this guy is?”
Boss: “Yes, that’s the Senior Vice President of Marketing!”
Hunting Party Podcast
After maybe a year of blogging on the WHU I was invited to be a host on the Hunting Party Podcast, and I must say I never really got over the feeling that I wasn’t pulling my weight in that department. Darkbrew and Euripides and Alissaunder really do all the work. They put together the show notes, handle the file prep and syndication, deal with listener questions and actually read the email. I just showed up and talked about hunters.
I can tell you right now, if you can get a set up like that, it’s a hell of a lot easier than writing a blog. Talking about hunters isn’t work, it’s just talking about one of your favorite topics within hearing of a few thousand people. Though on second thought, perhaps writing the blog makes it easier, since most of the time I had already thought through and often did the math of anything that came up, even if I didn’t look at the show notes in advance to see what was coming up. Regardless, they never kicked me off the show, for which I am also grateful.
Certainly one of the greatest moments of doing the show was the 100th episode when Darkbrew and Euripides actually flew out to Minnesota. After doing the show together for years, we finally got to meet in person and do the live show along with a string of awesome guests. And we’re still waiting for Euripides to get us the hours of hilarious post-show posted.
Shortly after joining the Hunting Party Podcast I also got the Scattered Shots column for WoW Insider, which at the time I thought was a pretty incredible opportunity to spread the word about the WHU. Many people have asked how I got that gig, and the unglamorous answer is that I applied just like anyone else. I can tell you though, that one of the big secrets to getting a gig at WoW Insider is to actually follow their instructions on how to apply. Do that and you’re already ahead of most of the pack!
After WoW Insider announced I was the new columnist (something I had to keep my mouth shut about for a few frustrating weeks, as I recall) the outgoing columnist, Brigwyn, contacted me. He was very generous and kind and we continued to correspond on occasion until he retired. His big advice to me then — and this is very good advice, and at times very hard to follow — was to have opinions. No matter what you say, some people are going to passionately disagree with you. He felt that all the trolls and naysaysers caused him to be more and more conservative and less and less opinionated until he eventually wasn’t really saying anything at all, just reporting facts, and no one really wanted to read that.
The hard part of following this advice is you have to strike a balance between having an opinion, but not being so certain you’re right that you can’t change in the face of contrary evidence. I advocate a very data-driven approach to avoid both problems, and I certainly never fell into the trap of failing to have opinions. I was even, at times, blamed as personally and solely responsible for hunter nerfs (but strangely, never for buffs we got that I advocated — why did none of them credit me for the removal of minimum range, huh?)
I also managed to continually turn in Scattered Shots columns that were longer than the maximum allowed word count. This made life on the editors much harder, but they tolerated it with kindness. In fact the WoW Insider crew, which changed a lot since I started, was a pretty awesome group to hang out with. I got to be on the internal email list where they discussed secret stuff – and they did occasionally have pretty awesome inside scoops, including some that never went public – as well as the WoW Insider chat room, which involved a lot of lolcats.
WoW Insider has a history of great hunter columnists (starting with Big Red Kitty) and I trust the hunter they find next will be awesome.
And of course the amazing moment when Blizzard named an in-game item after me — that is arguably the pinnacle of any WoW playing career (even if I already had a better cloak by the time this was put in the game) and perhaps I really should have just retired then, knowing nothing could top it.
But in fact so many more awesome things kept coming that I’m very glad I didn’t. I was particularly pleased that they included appropriate flavor text that made it clear that they didn’t just happen to use the name Frostheim, but instead clearly referred to my blogging. I know it’s just pixels, but there’s something very special about knowing you left your trace in the game. I’m planning on getting a figureprint of Frostheim decked out in his T1 armor (which I still have) and wearing this cloak. Years and years from now that is a knick knack that’s going to take a lot of explaining : )
I was always a huge fan of Cranius’ Big Blue Dress and wished that hunters had some kind of anthemic song for our class. Then one day a guildmate posted about this awesome techno track he made, and I thought it was quite good indeed. I asked if I could write lyrics for it to make it a hunter song, and he said yes, but he couldn’t sing (of course later we learned that he didn’t actually make the music either — it was some premade track that came with music creating software, which is why I wasn’t comfortable posting a download link). So I went to Balthazar, a friend who didn’t play WoW, but did sound and music stuff for a living. He agreed to sing and mix the track as a favor, while I got to work on the video.
Balthazar would later comment how that song has been heard by more people than every other thing he’s done put together. Checking now, the video has over a million views. No video I have done since comes close. But of course I did more, by going straight to Balthazar this time to make the music and do the singing. Balthazar regretfully declined, noting that it took time away from his freelance work (which paid). Eventually we decided we’d do another, but make it available for download on iTunes for a buck, so he could make money, hopefully more than he would via his normal freelancing. I Won’t Miss You became my favorite (along with Hunters Are Just Awesome) of all the songs we’ve done, but fewer than 100 people paid a buck for it, despite amassing a respectable 130,000 views. It would be years before we’d get more songs out of Balthazar, when Kickstarter let the hunter community put a price on the value of getting more songs, and let us do them in a way that Balthazar was still able to pay rent.
I dare say that hunters now have more songs dedicated to the class than any other — which is as it should be. And I love that it happened because the community came together to make it happen, putting their money on the line to get them made.
There were other cool things I got to do as a result of the WHU, but some of those I am sworn to secrecy about, and even as I retire I can’t talk about : )
Ah, I remember that first in-game event so well. The real motivation for that was to get some additional awesome hunter footage for the video I was working on for the I’m a Hunter Song. My hope was to get at least 20 people to show up for a level 1 hunter fight against Hogger. I was really concerned about getting enough people, and I grew concerned when none of the guildmates I was badgering were interested in helping. At the hour of the event, I couldn’t believe it when we passed 20 and filled up an entire raid group, and then another, and then more. Nearly 100 hunters made brand new baby hunters on Icecrown for the event. Hogger died faster than you could see him. The video was epic.
Communicating with that many people was difficult (we used a custom chat channel, which was filled with random chatter). After the success I decided we should do more, and started the WHU guild only as a more efficient way to communicate during events. That too took on a life of its own as the community embraced the idea. Hundreds of hunters swarmed into the guild and upon reaching the self-imposed level cap (level 10 at the time) they made death knight alts to power-level. These level-capped characters were the alts whose sole purpose was to farm gear for all the baby hunters of the guild, and act as easy transportation from location to location.
Of course these “alts” weren’t dwarven hunters, so they couldn’t be in the guild themselves and they formed their own guild. In time they would form several other guilds to better store and distribute items to hunters. A rank of officers sprang up, seemingly all on it’s own (certainly with no organization from me) to handle the increasingly complex logistics. These officers, along with WHU-DOT (dept of transportation) became key in organizing the complicated logistics of transporting hundreds of hunters to events, and in spearheading and organizing my ridiculous requests for items for events. I would just mention to Bella “Hey, let’s get enough of this item so everyone who comes can have 3″ and by event time the banks would be stocked with 10 times what we needed, and all the distribution organization was handled.
After the second event (which had well over 300 hunters) I had this idea of continuing the events up to the level cap, and then storming Orgrimmar. I thought it would be even cooler if we could do it with everyone wearing Gordok Ogre Suits — a ridiculous idea since each one required a Dire Maul run, and you since could only have one on you at a time making the gathering of hundreds ridiculous. I can’t say how pleased I was when years later it happened — not only did the WHU officers get the ogre suits (using guild banks for multiple guilds to store them) but they also go a bunch of Giant Elixirs so everyone could be HUGE ogres.
And how much more delightful that by the time we did the event, it was Garrosh we got to kill! Along with swarms of hordies as well : )
If you haven’t seen them all, I highly recommend checking out the various WHU event videos, which you can see on the WHU guild page. Eventually I made the video Granpappy Frostheim & the Mad Elf as a way to combine all that epic footage into a single video with a coherent (for a dwarf) story, which I think gives a good overview of the epicness that is the WHU.
The WHU guild remains to me one of the coolest things to come out of the WHU. It is incredibly what these hunters were able to do — and I should stress that it was the hunters and the guild officers and alts who made it all happen, not me. They are incredible. I have faith that they will keep the WHU going just fine without my blogging. They may even go ahead and make the new baby hunter guild — in fact, I think I have a character camping on the guild name “warcrafthuntersunion” somewhere, and can hand that off.
WHU in RL
Early on Arust and I thought it would be cool to have a real life meet-up for the hunters in the WHU, and the WHU BBQ was born. Held each summer at Arust’s house a bunch of us hunters got together and ate and drank and told stories of huntering. Bella was always present with some kind of home made hunter-themed pastries for us. Eventually we even broadcast the Hunting Party Podcast from the BBQ, including live on-air of me drinking the godawful, horrible “Canadian Hunter Whiskey” someone brought over.
Arth traveled a ridiculous distance to get to the BBQs and asked for hunters to submit hunter poetry that he and I took turns reading at BBQ2 and BBQ3, and he continues to post some of those awesome poetry submissions today.
Of course, the WHU BBQ wasn’t the only RL encounters I had with readers: eventually I would make the trek to Blizzcon in 2010 and again in 2011. That was a surreal experience. The WoW Insider party is incredible (and is, by the way, the highlight of Blizzcon, really) and having people come up to me asking for my picture and autograph was really, really weird. I brought my girlfriend in 2011, who despite my warnings, didn’t really believe I was a minor WoW celebrity. The experience was even more surreal for her, especially when someone asked her, “What’s it like to be dating Frostheim?” to which she responded, “Most of the time he isn’t Frostheim.”
The 2011 Blizzcon was also the year that an incredible fan, Wrailyn, actually made me a physical replica of the Recovered Cloak of Frostheim. It is amazing. Incredible. Ridiculously awesome. I also tended to collect a bunch of new friendship bracelets at every BBQ & Blizzcon — a great inside joke from a random bet I made Euripides on the spur of the moment on a podcast. I was trying to think of something totally ridiculous to bet, and “friendship bracelet” is what popped into my head. In 2011 we had organized a hunter meet up, where a bunch of us hunters hung out and drank and talk smack about all the other classes.
And of course at Blizzcon I got to meet and chat with Ghostcrawler about all manner of hunter things. I have to tell you that in person, Ghostcrawler is a very, very cool guy, and he was incredibly patient and generous with all of the throngs of people who wanted to talk with him.
I’ve always been wordy, so I suppose it’s appropriate that I end my WHU blogging with over 3,000 words of reminiscence. But even this post captures so little of the awesome moments of the WHU. The hunter motivational posters, the Frostheim Goggles cartoons, extreme soloing & pet tanking, all-hunter raids, theorycrafting discussion, haterade stories, sporebats, the thousands of emails, some quite touching, the moment when I discovered I had an anti-fan (you know you’ve made it then), the steady evolution of the hunter class and the hunter community and the thousands of other interactions with readers and fellow hunters that made all the work and theorycrafting and writing worthwhile. Because I can tell you right now, something like this is only a labor of love, and only worth the labor as long as you love doing it.
I am not done playing WoW or playing my hunter, but I am done blogging about it. I have already officially retired from WoW Insider, and am I stepping down from the Hunting Party Podcast as well. The great thing about the hunter community is that there are so many other blogs out there, and I’m sure one of them will step up to become the new big hunter blog, just as I’m sure there will always be plenty of others offering different insights into the hunter experience.
If you want to keep up with what I’m doing, both within WoW and without, you can follow me on Twitter at @FrostheimWHU. I’m probably still going to work on various web projects, but at least for the time being I’m determined not to do anything that requires any kind of regular posting commitment and isn’t directly WoW-related. Instead I’m going to give a bit more attention to other random projects that I’ve either neglected, or have been meaning to do. But only the kind of things where I’m not letting anyone down if I decide not to do anything with it for a month or three.
This of course include my Dice Store, and perhaps getting some more work done on my Werewolf database Wyrmfoe. Also, I’ve been seriously meaning for years to make a kind of SEO how-to repository, because so many people ask me about it and I don’t have anywhere good to direct them. I grabbed DoctorMcAwesome.com a year ago with the intent of finally doing this, but just didn’t have the time. So perhaps I’ll fill that out a bit as well.
If you guys have any questions about anything, feel free to drop a line on Twitter of shoot me an email, or leave a comment here.
And seriously, sincerely, thank you. Thank you for reading and commenting and being a part of the hunter community. I don’t have the words to say how much all of you guys have meant to me over the years. This has been so much more than just a blog. It’s been a community, friends, and family.
And now, memories.
Be sure to give me a /wave if you see me in game, and remember – whatever you do and wherever you go in this life: always pay yer dues.