Gather round, and I will tell you all a story... (I apologize for the length!)
Way back in May, when I was finishing up university, my boyfriend installed WoW.
...now there was absolutely no way I was going to let him do this without me, so the next day I installed it too.
A few hours later, there I was, looking at the character creation screen...
Me: "Ooooh, Tauren are so cute!! I must make one!!"
The Boyfriend: "Erm, I'm playing Alliance, so you'll have to also if you want to play with me."
Me: "Oh. Darn. Well let's see here. Oooh, Night Elves. They had a pretty cool backstory in Warcraft III. Look, I can even make one with teal hair. My favorite color! *squee* Now for class. Hmm. Oooh, hunter. That sounds sorta like my favorite D&D class, ranger."
And thus Tawyn was born.
I spawned as a little level one Night Elf Hunter in Teldrassil and I had no idea what was going on. I clicked on all the little tutorials that popped up, reading them carefully and trying not to forget what they said. "The little gold chalice button is the Quest Log." "People with a big yellow exclamation point above their head have stuff for you to do." "Right click to attack." It was all very confusing. I couldn't keep a lot of the aspects of this strange new game straight. I found a cute little bunny hopping around and I wanted to select it... so I right-clicked. It died. I felt horrible. The camera angle kept doing strange things, and I had no idea how to change it.
But oh, look, a guy with a big yellow exclamation point above his head! That means he has stuff for me to do, right? He's telling me to go kill boars. Whee, I'll go shoot them!
So I did. But then they ran towards me and I couldn't shoot them anymore. So I whacked away furiously with my dagger, spamming the attack button because I thought that was how you did it. Then I went back triumphantly to get my very first quest reward. I chose some mail gear because it had the most armor so it was obviously the best one. Then I spent about ten minutes trying to figure out why I couldn't equip it.
Those first few quests weren't so bad, even though I was still clueless about the game. But around level 4 or so, I found a cave full of spiders and that was a terrible, terrible place. Those spiders killed me more times than I can count. There was another place called "Starbreeze Village" which was filled with cute teddy bears! They killed me too. Hmm.
So by level 6 I was getting pretty discouraged and I was wondering how the heck I was supposed to get to wherever my boyfriend the human warlock was because it didn't seem to be anywhere in the vicinity. Plus, I'd found a Peacebloom which I wanted to give to him as a present because it was really pretty. So one of my sisters decided to make a level 1 character on my server and show me the way!
Off we went. We rode gryphons and boats and died at the hands of crocodiles and ogres. My sister kept stopping and telling me to talk to strange NPCs with green exclamation marks above their heads. I had no idea why I was doing this, but I did anyway.
Eventually we got to Ironforge and rode a curious little subway thing to Stormwind. I was completely lost but I followed my sister around because she seemed to know what she was doing. I eventually found my boyfriend and opened trade with him to give him my present. But...
Trial accounts cannot trade.
...there was only one thing to do. I bought the game. And gave him the Peacebloom.
So there I was, level 6 and in Stormwind. And-- oooh, look that guy's weapon is all fiery! Mental note to get that someday, whatever it is-- I began questing in Goldshire. It wasn't exactly a pleasant experience. Murlocs killed me mercilessly and despite the fact that I thought I was pretty handy with my dagger, spamming that attack button and all, I didn't seem to be doing very well. I rolled my very first alt, a tauren (they're cute darnit!) druid, and it was a lot more fun. You mean I can cast spells at people and heal? So much cooler than that silly hunter I'd made, pffft. But I kept playing my hunter because I wanted to play with the boyfriend.
Level 10 rolled around and I got this mysterious quest to go back to my hometown and get a pet. I about had a heart attack when I found out I had to go back to Teldrassil, as visions of those evil crocodiles and ogres flashed in my memory. I procrastinated on that quest for a while, because of that. But, eventually, I used my hearthstone (which I had never got around to changing yet) and went back there.
The quest involved me taming a spider, a cat, and an owl. The spider I still had a grudge against from that cave. The cat was cute but I saw cats all over Stormwind (all the hunters wanted them, for some strange reason), and I wanted to be unique. The owl made cute flappy-wing noises. I liked him.
After the quest I was informed that I could go tame a pet of my choosing to keep for as long as I wanted. I freaked out because I instinctively knew that this was a big decision and I didn't want to screw it up. Frantically I went to my sisters for help, and they directed me to a website called Petopia. I spent about an hour there, cycling through all the pet choices, hardly understanding anything about "DPS" or "skills". I was going purely on looks, how hard they would be to get (I wanted a raptor but they were in the Barrens, which I assumed was full of Hordies who wanted to kill me, so that was a no-go), and whether the site said they were "offensive", "defensive", or "well-rounded."
I seriously considered a wolf but in the end I went with the owl. There was something endearing about having an owl flapping next to you. I went and tamed a Strigid Hunter and named him Tux.
Back to Stormwind I went, feeling a rush of relief when I managed to get back to Elwynn. I hadn't liked it at first but it had really grown on me. Now I just had to adjust to life with a pet. I wasn't exactly sure how it was supposed to work. Was I supposed to put him on aggressive and have him kill things for me? Hmm, nope, he died. OH MY GOSH IS HE GONE FOREVER?? *hyperventilates* Oh wait no, there's a spell called Revive Pet. *deep breaths*
I know, I'll shoot stuff and make it come to me and my pet and I can fight it together!
That's what I did for a while.
...yes. I know.
I moved from Elywnn into Westfall and began questing there. At some point during this period I realized I could teach my owl "Growl", and I also sort of gained an inkling of the idea of having him tank while I shot stuff. I could now use something called "Talent points". I asked a couple people (non-hunters) what I should do with them and I was told to put them into the Marksmanship tree, so I did. Improved Concussive Shot, obviously, because a chance at stunning someone sounded about ten times more exciting than increased crit. I thought I was a pretty darn good hunter, despite the fact that, ya know, I was dying all the time. Boldly I ventured into Deadmines with my pet on aggressive. This was a dungeon afterall. More damage was good, right? Having my pet on aggressive killing stuff was good, right?
The people at my party started yelling at me and telling me to control my pet. I didn't get it. How was I supposed to control my pet? What did they mean?
At some point they told me trap a mob. I laid down an Immolation Trap and smugly pulled the mob in. I had an ice trap too but I didn't like it. It didn't do any damage. Pfft. What kinda lame trap is that, not doing any damage?
We killed VanCleef somehow. The people in my party weren't very happy because apparently someone had ninja'd a lot of the loot throughout the dungeon. I got angry too. Darn those ninjas! Good thing I somehow got a lot of great stuff though. My bags were full of them. Silly people should know to click Need if they want stuff.
And so I continued my questing, fancying myself as a nice little hunter who'd had some bad luck. I still wasn't a big fan of the class and I was rolling non-hunter alts all the time, but Tawyn was the highest level so she was the most interesting, so she got the most playtime.
One day I was attacking something and somehow aggro'd something else as well. It ran towards me, with Tux still busy on the first mob. Now I don't know how or why this idea popped into my head, because it had never ever occurred to me before... but for some reason I hit my never-used Freezing Trap button.
I had one mob trapped and out of my way while I took care of the other one. Then I went back and finished the trapped mob.
Afterwards, I blinked. Whoa.
...what a neat trick I'd just discovered! I tried it again. It worked, again. Wow! How fun!
I wondered if hunters had any other little tricks like that.
After I logged off WoW I hit up WoW Wiki and Google, searching for information and help on the hunter class. The first two sites I stumbled across were called The Hunter's Mark and Big Red Kitty. The Hunter's Mark had a bunch of stuff on trapping which I read voraciously. Big Red Kitty was filled with math and numbers and strange new phrases I had never heard of before, like "Steady Shot" and "Kill Command". But it all seemed very important so I bookmarked it.
I hit my 30s and began questing in Desolace. I haven't forgotten this: me, my boyfriend, and the guy who'd introduced us to WoW playing on an alt, all of us questing in Desolace. At some point we pulled a lot more mobs than we wanted to. And I, ever in love with my little trick, trapped a mob while we took out the others.
The friend said in party chat, "Great use of your traps Tawyn... you'll make a great hunter."
Wait... I would?
But everybody was always yelling at me! I was always dying! And yet... I really had the potential to be a good hunter? Great, even?
And that settled it.
I went back to BRK and read the entire thing. Everything. First I read the posts he had linked on his sidebar. Then I went back to his very first post and read the whole blog "cover-to-cover". I read all the comments. Took a few days. I tried to internalize as much as I could. I didn't understand a lot of it but I read it anyway. I went to The Hunter's Mark, too, and read as much of it as I could and watched the movies that had been posted. Then I started clicking on links and on the names of the commenters. More blogs to read! I never said anything, I just lurked and read.
Somehow, between all that reading and learning and the playing and practicing, something clicked.
Suddenly I couldn't play my non-hunter alts anymore. They were awkward. They didn't have that special, unique quality that my hunter did. They weren't me. I remember I rolled a troll warrior on some friends' server with the express purpose of making her my "main alt." I got to level 7 or 8 or so and had to stop, I just wasn't having fun or enjoying myself at all. The next day I went back to that server and rolled a hunter. Today she's my second-highest level character.
More leveling, more questing. More... erm... very interesting adventures as you can see from the above screenshot. And slowly I incorporated what I had been learning from various blogs into my gameplay. I was using my traps. I was teaching my pet the right skills. I had my pet under control. I was no longer a hindrance in groups, but a help. I stayed Marksman until level 50 because I was comfortable with it; but here is where the Grand Respec Phase came and I messed around with specs for a while before settling on, whaddaya know, 41/20/0. I hit 58 and Outlands. Things kept improving for me. I began topping charts in battlegrounds. I began topping charts in instances. People began specifically asking me to instance with them-- apparently I've improved a little since Deadmines.
Most importantly, I discovered something that I could practice and take pride in. It might sound a little silly to a lot of people if I were to compare playing my class in World of Warcraft, to honing one's skills in a sport or art form. But that's sort of what it became to me. And it taught me that no matter how horrible you are at something-- a little coaching and a little practice can work wonders.
I am a hunter.
And as of today, I am level 70.
Thanks, WoW bloggers. I couldn't have done it without you guys. (Well, I could have, but... it wouldn't have been a pretty sight. /twitch) I can only hope that my own little site will be as helpful to some other inquisitive newbie someday.