With the 200th and final episode of the Hunting Party Podcast, which will be this Saturday (Jan. 18), we’re closing shop on the podcast and the WHU. That leaves only a few more articles as we kick off the end of an era. But since I want the last WHU post to be a list of resources for hunters, I want to jump the gun a little bit to offer my goodbye to the many friends I’ve made through this website and its adventures.
Frostheim wrote a long post chronicling his days in WoW when he decided to retire. It was epic, nostalgic, and heartfelt. And while I told myself at that time that I wouldn’t do the same, I think this will also be a nice opportunity for many WHU stalwarts to reminisce once again. I never had my name in the hunter pantheon in quite the same sense that Frostheim did, but I’ve been grateful for a chance to interact with the community through the WHU and podcast. So please bear with me, and enjoy.
Discovering the WHU
When I found the WHU I knew nothing – NOTHING – about being a good hunter. Frostheim whipped me into shape, like many others, by constantly stressing that we could get more out of our class by doing the big AND little things well. And I took to min/maxing like a champ. It’s a mentality that has since crept into so many other facets of my life that I couldn’t begin to count them. Wanting to be your best – to pay your dues – and working at the tools to get there…that’s a philosophy, not a video game class. Obviously, Frostheim isn’t solely responsible for this, because many of the core tenets were already in place, but in the WHU and in Frostheim I found someone with whom I identified, whose approach and mentality mirrored my own, and found an approach to the game that would take my enjoyment and fulfillment in WoW to new heights.
And at the time, Frost was soloing the then-difficult Molten Core bosses. And I wanted a piece of that action! So I stepped into MC…and promptly got my ass handed to me. It was brutal. But it made me want to work and succeed. But it wasn’t for several months that I found my niche.
True story: when I first went to Frostheim and offered to write a pet tanking article about tanking heroic dungeons in Wrath of the Lich King, I hadn’t yet successfully tanked a heroic dungeon. I never told him this (sorry Frost! I’m sure I meant to ;-) ).
But I was close to doing it – damn close – and I knew from watching Frost that I could improve immeasurably. I knew it was possible. But even I didn’t realize how far it would go.
I tanked some regular dungeons. Then stumbled through a couple heroics. Dps pulled aggro off of me, my pet died constantly, I forgot the basics of my rotation as I tried to adjust to a new play style, etc. etc. It was something that almost no one else was doing, so I didn’t have anyone to model off of. It was just me. But I kept getting better.
The light switch moment came on a random raid night. “Arth,” I saw in G-chat, “we need an off tank for Naxx. Get your pet ready.” Well, holy ****, I thought. The raid leader wanted to give me my shot…I had mentioned it once or twice. But nobody actually thought it was possible (this was pre-Ulduar, but only just, and we had long since cleared Naxx and had most fights on farm). On the few fights where I was needed as an off-tank – the main tank could solo-tank most of the raid – I performed respectably. And then we came to Patchwerk.
Raid Leader: “Alright, make sure Arth’s pet has 2nd aggro.”
Me: “That won’t work. My pet attacks from behind unless he has top aggro, so you’ll eat the full damage. I’m going to need to main tank this one.”
RL: “Healers, can I one-tank this?”
Heals: “I doubt it.”
RL: “Damn. Well, ok then. Arth, pull when you’re ready.”
That was the moment. I knew that if I did this, I was onto something. And if I didn’t, with the boss on farm, I was probably relegated to dungeon tanking forever.
I’ll spare you the video. My skills still weren’t nearly what they’d become. I clicked instead of key-binding and let Serpent Sting drop and forgot to heal my pet on occasion and generally was just thankful that we had some awesome healers in the group. But I did it.
Then it was on. This was in the pre-LFG days where you had to cobble together dungeon groups every day with guildies and PUGs. Tanks were always, ALWAYS, in demand. Guildies started asking if I’d tank their runs. I would happily do so. And once raid bosses were on farm, I barely had to suggest tanking it…my friends wanted to see if I could continue to do it.
Then Sindragosa happened. To put this in perspective, my first kill of Sindy was as tank. My guild couldn’t clear it beforehand, despite at least a couple weeks of bashing our head on the fight. When it happened, many semi-hardcore progression guilds still didn’t have it on farm. Most casual guilds weren’t even close. And here was a hunter pet solo-tanking it.
It was a bit of cheating. To be clear, I wouldn’t have been able to tank Sindy without everything that came before it. But Sindy was also the perfect storm of pet tanking. It’s not a risk to say we’ll never see a fight catered to pet tanks so well ever again. But that didn’t mean it was easy, and I wouldn’t have pulled it off had I not been working on my tanking for months beforehand. But it was perhaps the only time when A. hunter tanking was preferable, and B. we could tank it as a progression fight, not once we outgeared the boss considerably.
When Frostheim featured the video on WoW Insider, there were multiple cries of cheating. It was a private server, they said. Doctored video. The incredulity was enlightening, because even other dedicated hunters had no idea what we were capable of. To this day, it has about 10x more views than any other video I’ve made, and it was the feather in my cap that I doubt I’ve come close to equaling before or since.
Others have gone on to bigger and better challenges. Several hunters are every bit the pet tank I ever was, and more so. I always knew that while what I was doing was awesome, I was doing it with very little competition. So it’s been nice to see others take over and accomplish things that I never could. But I’d like to think that video put pet tanking on the map in a way that nothing else to that point had. And it’s nice to be able to legitimately say you have a world first kill, even if it’s only a world first in a relatively barren niche of the hunter class.
It should be noted that the other “Hunters do it best” pet tanking feat of ICC – and really the only other “hunters do it best” tanking feat EVER as far as I know – was accomplished by Frostheim, but I actually gave him the idea for it. I had stopped raiding at the end of Wrath, but had the idea and wanted to see it accomplished before Cataclysm hit. The ever-resourceful Frostheim was a great stand-in. It was on Rotface, with the hunter pet main tanking it, and the hunter kiting the slimes around the edge. It was a job that normally took two tanks, or at least one tank and a kiter. But only a hunter could do both jobs alone:
There were numerous other achievements. Once I even tanked a fight, was top dps, AND top heals (Deathbringer Saurfang in ICC; pic below). Of course, the fight had been on farm for so long, and the stacking ICC buff was so high, that I don’t count it among my finer moments. But there was all sorts of fun to be had in the world of pet tanking.
That was the question entering Cataclysm. We knew hunters could tank raid bosses on occasion. And hunters were slowly getting more and more tools to do things like self-heal and solo. So that opened up new possibilities that we never would have dreamed of even just a few months prior.
The idea of doing an all-hunter raid was an old one. Frostheim and I had talked about it from the early days of my involvement in the WHU. But it always seemed like an abstraction, not a real possibility. But once we entered Cataclysm with more soloing tools than ever (arguably) and some top-notch soloing and tanking feats under our collective belts, we knew it could be a reality.
I should note that my interest in pet tanking spawned from trying something new…from looking at our toolbox and finding new and exciting ways to use it. And all-hunter raiding was that on a massive scale! And with other hunters who knew as much as I did about the class. It was an alchemy lab of strategies and ideas, and it was a blast.
The first boss(es) we downed, the Omnotron Defense Council, exemplified this mad scientist approach. There were abilities we could negate with Feign Death, others with Deterrance, abilities to interrupt, attacks that our pets could eat, and ways that we could maneuver the fight so that we fought only the 2-3 members of the council that we were best suited for. Frostheim wasn’t able to lead the raids, so I took charge of them (though Frost was present as a co-conspirator on many occasions). And the scheming paid off:
We killed seven bosses in Cataclysm. SEVEN! And one of them was in Dragon Soul, the final raid encounter of the expansion. And we did it all before Mist of Pandaria dropped. Morchok was the last of them. And it could have been eight bosses. A 10M group of us got Hagara under 1%, and never fully downed her. She would have easily been the crowning achievement of our escapades. It was perhaps the most heartbreaking near miss of my raiding life. But we know it was possible. And even without her, what we did was unprecedented! Occasionally you hear about an all-one-class raid…usually druids. But a “pure dps” class doing it? And killing seven current expansion bosses?! I don’t think it’s ever been matched, and likely never will be either. Leading those raids was occasionally stressful, but it’s the most proud I’ve ever been of an accomplishment in WoW. There are too many names to mention who were part of it. But if you were there for any of those kills, thank you! It was epic.
That was my personal journey through the expansions (MoP has been relatively quiet by comparison). But the WHU has had an amazing life outside of my tanking and all-hunter niches.
Frostheim and I put together the first event thinking we’d get a dozen or so people. We got 90-100. It was a startling realization that we were onto something. From Hogger to Garrosh, I was at nearly every event, and each one was spectacular. I don’t have a favorite event, so the video below (Pirates v. Ninjas) is just one of many that I or Frostheim made. But it’s indicative of the fun we had at each one.
The all-dwarven-hunter guild itself became more than we ever could have imagined. Officers stepped up to manage weekly runs and bank tabs. Sister guilds spawned to support and coexist with the WHU. I can’t begin to name everyone who made the continuing hunter presence that we had a success. But a special shoutout to Bella – many will know her name as the “mother” of the guild – for always being optimistic, helpful, and determined.
I want to do more pet tanking. I want to do more all-hunter raiding. I want to record myself playing WoW music (I’m a violinist) to provide my own backing tracks for my videos. I regret not giving us one last event to close out the WHU (although we may attempt something this Saturday during the podcast). I want to organize “nostalgia” raids where we get together and kill old content. I want to reinvigorate the WHU Guild and go on to more and greater glories. I want to complete my IRL hunter costume and make hilarious videos at medieval festivals and other venues to share with you. I want to…
But it’s time. I’ve had to slowly reduce my involvement for nearly a year now. I’m in a great place in my life, and don’t want to change it. But it leaves very little room for WoW. And I don’t enjoy WoW nearly as much as a casual experience. If I play it, I want to PLAY. I want to min/max and raid endgame and tank bosses and go the whole nine yards. So while I’ll miss being as involved as I was, it was ultimately an easy decision.
There’s always the promise of glory over the next hill, or next expansion as the case may be. It’s one of the coolest aspects of this game. But I’m content having done what we did, and going out “on top” as a website, community, and partners in adventure. Others will pick up the mantle, though, just as people like Frostheim did after BRK gave up his tenure as the premiere hunter blogger. And it will be fun to see what comes next.
Hunting Party Podcast
The podcast was always something I enjoyed listening to, but never something I did. It was Frost’s thing. It was only as he faded from podcasting and blogging that I jumped in. So in terms of its overall life cycle, I came on rather late. I think Ep. 154 was my first, so I’ve been around for roughly the last 1/4 of its existence. It seems like less than that – the time went so quickly – but it was one of the biggest surprises of my involvement here.
Darkbrew, Alisaunder, and earlier Euripides and Frostheim, are amazing, fun, opinionated and knowledgeable people. It was a pleasure being introduced to the world of podcasting and working with them. I’m also thrilled that I get to be around to see it off. It’s really taken on a life of its own with guests who have become friends, in-jokes that have carried through multiple expansions, and a mutual bond that has broken down the barriers of distance between us and our audience.
We have one more show left; it will be an awesome, if slightly inebriated, time. It’s this Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 2pm EST. Come join us!
13-hour drives (apparently I had a lot more free time back then). Food, drinks, alcohol. Stories and strategies. Pictures, videos, smiles, laughter. Thongs. I count many of you as my friends from these gatherings, and will treasure the memories.
This was an idea Frostheim let me run with for the first BBQ. We read poetry at the BBQ event, later on various podcasts, and they’re all collected here on the site as well.
Y’all wrote some awesome – and occasionally hilarious – poetry. This was a minor project that I led here, but is perhaps the best example I can give that the WHU truly tried to cover ALL aspects of the hunter world in our thorough, and often eclectic, coverage of hunters and WoW. We were always about more than just news and announcements (though we never ignored those). It was about hunters, the people who played them in WoW, and the epic, funny, touching, and unique ways we experienced the game.
The Hunter Project and Leaving the WHU
When Frostheim left, I knew I was leaving too. I just didn’t know when. I’ve enjoyed my time as curator of the WHU, but this was never something I wanted to do full-time. But rather than just give up the site right away, I realized we had a still-large community that could make a real impact on the game. Thus The Hunter Project was born. Click here for the link to the master list.
This was a concerted effort to pool the collective klout of the WHU community together to make lasting changes to the game. Now, I kept expectations realistic…the Blizzard devs have 100 things on their mind that we don’t when it comes to class development. But that said, I know for a fact it was read by Ghostcrawler (who was at that time still with Blizzard) and shared amongst the devs. And we’ve seen some signs that many of the issues raised by The Project have indeed been considered by Blizzard.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get to write the “How did we do?” post on it…we won’t know the lasting impact of it until we’re much, much closer to WoD. But it was a noble effort, one that I’m proud of. I fielded literally dozens of emails, hundreds of comments, and had lots of lively discussions with hunters about various aspects of our class. And most of the ideas in the Project were not my own, making it truly a group effort. And even if we only get a couple ideas to sneak into the WoD class changes, I’d say we did something positive for the hunter class.
There are still dozens of great sites, blogs, and resources for hunters out there. I’m currently putting together a giant list so that anyone who stumbles across the WHU after this week can be directed to up-to-date sites and interesting bloggers. Glories await, and the next generation of great hunter bloggers is already in our midst.
Otherwise, this has carried on long enough and has gotten a bit too melodramatic for my taste at times. Apologies. Anyway, it’s been fun. Keep being awesome, and if I ever meet any of you IRL and we get to hang out or chat for a while, drinks are on me. Cheers!