Punt the Gnome

 ***Please note: anything in [ ] was a footnote in my word processing document.***

Chapter 5


World of Warcraft takes time to learn all the details: questing, leveling, PvP, raiding, gearing, etc. I got questing and leveling down pat fairly fast, and I became something known as an altaholic, meaning I created the maximum number of characters on one server and played all of them as much as I could. Some people hate spending countless hours leveling up, so they’re a one-toon player. And then there are people like me who are unfazed by leveling and must play the game as every last class—except rogue and warlock. To this day, I have yet to reach the max level as either.

WoW is very time-consuming, even if you dedicate yourself to one character. In the beginning I was still learning which class I most enjoyed playing, and often switched between Druid, Paladin (Pally), and Mage. I tried every class but I lacked the patience to play Rogue, which requires lots of sneaking around and assassinating your enemies from behind. If you get in front of your intended victim, chances are you’ll be spotted. I wasn’t any good as priest because they didn’t put out much damage until level 40 back in Vanilla. [I could be wrong about the poor damage output, but that’s how much I sucked at the game.] Warlock didn’t compute with me for some reason. I think it might’ve been having to farm for soul shards that broke me. Warrior was alright but I hated down time to eat and get my health back. I don’t recall when exactly I tried Hunter but it was back during the days where they had to make sure stay stocked up on arrows. Nothing like running out of ammo at a critical moment. And I didn’t try Shaman until the first expansion, since it was a Horde-exclusive class back then.

Still, even with three classes I clicked with, I still sucked at them in many ways. One day, when I was leveling my Paladin, Druther, whom I’d named similarly to Uther, a figure from Warcraft lore, another player whispered, “What on earth are you wearing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look at you: you’re wearing almost all white-level gear.” [Gear is color-coded in the level of quality.]

WoW is all about the gear. My concept of gearing borrowed from my Final Fantasy experience, where vendors had upgrades available as you progressed. The fact that I had to find, craft, or instance for upgrades was beyond my knowledge. Every now and then something neat would drop from a random monster I killed, or a quest giver would reward me with an upgrade. Other than that, I anticipated having to save gold for upgrades.

So there I was in a zone called Wetlands, hacking away at an oozeling mob for probably a minute, regularly healing myself until my gooey foe was vanquished. [Mob: gamer lingo for “monster.”] My appalled acquaintance went on to demonstrate how fast he could kill a mob and told me to inspect his gear, which led to a succinct tutorial on how to inspect another player, and then me ogling at of his fancy getup.

“Where do I get gear like that?”

I don’t remember what the person said beyond that but I know he or she wasn’t rude. My acquaintance was like, “Oh, dear god, this person needs help!” and went on to give that help. I think s/he introduced me to the Auction House, where I decked myself out a bit, and suddenly killing mobs was so much easier. I was also told to switch to Retribution (Ret) spec, unless I planned on tanking.

“What’s tanking?” I was in Protection (Prot) spec, which excelled at survivability. Every class has three specializations and Prot had sounded the smartest at the time. Part of the reason I was taking forever to kill anything was because of my spec. Boy do things get easier when you play the game the way you should. [Players can choose one of three specializations: tank, healing, or DPS (damage per second). Tanks are the damage absorbers, healers keep everyone alive, and DPSers kill stuff.]

After learning to gear up and hitting the max level of 60, I then scratched the surface of learning to raid in order to get even better gear—more like I ran around with 39 other people on Druther, my pally, and no one teaching me how to raid.

Back in Vanilla WoW, raiding meant 40 people got together to go kill stuff in one place or another with their concerted efforts. It was all teamwork and coordination. The stuff they killed dropped covetous pieces of gear, also called loot. Raiding is one of the things you can do once you’re done leveling up.

I remember being in Zul’Gurub, a raid with lots of trolls, snakes, and a giant water monster with a guild called Overdose. They were number one on the server and a bunch of asses. However, they got shit done and did it well. A friend of mine in Overdose snuck me into the raid but, since I wasn’t a part of the guild, I wasn’t allowed to roll on any gear, even if no one in their guild needed something I could put to use. You had to earn the right to win gear by raiding with them a certain number of times before they’d award you anything. It’s reasonable in a way, but there are better ways to dish out loot. [Secondary definition of “roll”: just like rolling a die, you type in /roll and the game picks a random number from 1-100. Whenever you want something real bad, the game seems to know and gives you the worst rolls, but if it’s something you kind of want, you almost always roll 90+.]

I remember leaving the raid before it was finished. I couldn’t stomach their attitudes.

I had a friendlier raiding experience on Midgetofdoom, my mage, with another guild in a place called Blackrock Spire, a labyrinthian place under a mountain full of orcs and bigger beasties. These people took the time to explain the mechanics of fights so I wouldn’t so readily die. Death was inevitable, until you got familiarized with the flow of the fight. There were places you wanted to stand, along with places you wanted to avoid standing in. You either needed to stand near people, or in your own safe corner, and you needed to know what to attack or not attack, and when. There are many other fight mechanics but overall most fights can be simplified into this: don’t stand in shit and kill the adds as they pop. [adds: additional monsters that appear.] However, that’s easier said than done. It can take weeks to learn how to down a boss. [“Down a boss”: a big bad guy that requires a team effort to kill.] Coordinating the efforts of 40 people is no simple feat.

In Blackrock Spire, one boss was a giant demon dog (picture Cerberus with two heads) that required a gnome in order to initiate the fight.

“Hey, Midget,” a raid leader said to me over Teamspeak, “since you’re a gnome and a mage, we need you to run over to the boss, aggro him, then blink back over.”

Now might be a prudent time to point out how gullible I am. Sarcasm isn’t one of my strong suits, and I’ve had a fair few friends who love the comedy that ensues from taking advantage of this.

Anyway, me being no bigger than one of the poochie’s toes, I was a bit apprehensive of running over to the dark corner of a room, where only the face of a giant monster could be seen peering out at us.

“Why me?” I typed back in raid chat. I respectfully didn’t talk in Teamspeak since I wasn’t one of the raid leaders.

“Because it’s your first time here.” Her voice was calm and pragmatic, no hint of an impending joke about to be played.

Another person said, “It’s how you’re supposed to pull the boss. He punts whoever aggros him first.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll heal you,” one of the healers said.

I didn’t like the sound of this one bit. “Can’t someone who knows the fight do it?”

“Nope,” the raid leader said. “Since this is your first time here, you get the honors of doing it.”

In retrospect, I imagine there must’ve silent fits of laughter, people doubled over their keyboards and hugging their stomachs.


“Just run up to him, attack him once, and hurry right back, or else you’ll die.”

“Alright then.” Nope, didn’t like this one bit.

“Ready, Midget?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

“Alright. Go ahead and start the fight.”

I inched forward as 39 other people stayed plastered to wall opposite demon doggie. “Tally ho.” I grimaced at my screen as I tentatively took one step after another before breaking into a jog, and as the gap between me and my fellow raiders grew, so did my dread. This couldn’t be a good idea at all. And having so many sets of eyes solely on me didn’t help my nerves.

Like a good gnome mage, I dutifully stopped with the demon doggie just in range of my spells and cast a fireball at him. It landed square in his face and, despite a pint-sized attack coming from a pint-sized person, it sufficed to get his attention. A giant monster straight from the depths of WoW Hell burst from the darkness and charged me. I let out a midget cry and dashed back towards my allies, using my blink spell for good measure.

However, just as I reappeared twenty yards ahead of where I’d started running, my minuscule frame took the air and my head snapped back as my body soared spread-eagle towards a stone wall.

Oh, my. A wall.

My allies charged in and I saw my health bar go from full to zero before I hit the ground. I don’t remember if I hit the wall but I know I didn’t even live long enough to die from the landing.

“Sorry, Midget,” one of the healers said between laughter. “I didn’t even get a chance to cast my shield on you.”

If only I could say that was the last time midget me was ever punted like a football…


About Angela Macala-Guajardo

Author, teacher, soon-to-be full time writer for two companies. Also a lover life in the Arizona desert, puppy butt wiggles, and kitties purring away on my shoulder.
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