The spirit of giving

Our own little Christmas miracle

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | 06:07 AM | by

Today I'm going to tell you a little story about yesterday (Tuesday, for those keeping track), a day that was pretty crummy all day long but had a fairly epic happy ending.

As I've mentioned before, we've got a great little guild over on the Sentinels server in WoW. As you also may be aware, World of Warcraft just launched its third expansion, Cataclysm.

Now, if you've played WoW to any extent, you're likely familiar with the "Realm First" achievements. They're feat of strength achievements awarded to the people on a server who reach certain milestones first. Typically "First max level Druid" or whatever. Well, Cataclysm introduced Guild levels and achievements, and along with them, some Guild Realm Firsts.

When the list of achievements was first leaked, we looked over the guild realm firsts. The typical ones related to raiding were going to be in heavy competition in early days of the expansion, and though we raid successfully (we were 7th overall on our server in terms if progression in WotLK), we're not a raiding guild. I had no interest in asking our raiders to commit the amount of time necessary to be competitive for raiding guild first achievements, especially around the holiday season.

Instead we set our sights on a different Realm First, one that more of the guild could participate in. Realm First Working as a Team. We have a decent-sized, pretty active guild, and we figured this was within our grasp, and would be a pretty fun goal as a group. It would require us to be the first guild on our server with all of the crafting professions maxxed out.

Prior to the expansion, we did a little planning, determining who was going to do which profession, and who would be gatherers for materials. We were all set to go, and when the expansion dropped, we realized that in order to get credit for the profession on the achievement, that particular profession master would have to reach Honored status with the guild. Gaining guild rep to honored would take a person 2-3 weeks with the instituted weekly cap on how much rep you could earn.

Suddenly there was less pressure to max out our professions immediately (although we did claim three individual realm firsts, Realm First Jewelcrafter, Enchanter and Archaeologist), and the achievement was really going to come down to which guild could get their profession masters to honored first.

The second week came and went, and no other guild got the achievement. Now we knew it was going to come down to the third week when the weekly guild rep cap reset (yesterday). We had four profession masters left who weren't honored, and would need to finish out their rep immediately following the reset. Our Skinner/Leathworker, our Jewelcrafter, our Scribe and our Archaeologist.

Early yesterday morning, they were online, ready to get rep. The weekly reset took place, and that's when we realized that our Jewelcrafter and Scribe had fallen prey to a known bug that prevents people from gaining guild rep. Basically, if you're online when the reset takes place, there's a chance the game won't properly reset your status, and it will still think you're at the weekly cap.

After all of our hard work, due to a bug our maxxed Scribe and JC were now unable to reach the Honored status they needed to give credit for the achievement. Our hearts sank. We were sure that every minute wasted another guild was closing in on the achievement. We had been prepared to lose the achievement if another guild beat us to it... them's the breaks. But to be denied the opportunity to complete it by a game glitch was painful. I was irritated to see everyone work so hard towards something, only to be robbed of a legitimate chance at it by something that was completely out of our hands.

We scrambled, checking all of our guild members to see if there was anyone else who could both max out one of these professions AND reach Honored with the guild that day. Fortunately, we found one other Jewelcrafter and one other Scribe that could do just that... unfortunately they were offline and we had no idea if or when they might log on.

And so we waited. I sat doing work, with WoW open on one screen, hoping they'd log in in time.

The Scribe logged on first, and the guild immediately scrambled to get her the materials needed to max out the profession. She then went off to raise her rep to Honored through quests.

We then went back to waiting for the Jewelcrafter to login, meanwhile watching every achievement around us, sure that at any moment we'd see the announcement that the Realm First had been awarded.

Finally, around 6pm, he logged in. The feverish and frantic greeting that awaited him had to be seen to be believed. He was already honored with the guild, so we immediately got him the materials he needed to finish his profession, which he did, netting us the Working as a Team achievement...

...but not the Realm First.

Once again, heartbreak. Had another guild already gotten it, and we hadn't seen it? Had it happened last week and we missed it? I scoured the armory, checking all of the well-known, active guilds on our server, and none of them had it. If no other guild had the achievement, where was our realm first? I figured it had been obtained by one of the smaller guilds on the server, and we had just not seen it.

At this point, bummed out, my fiancee and I decided to go hang out and catch up on the last couple episodes of Dexter. We had just finished the season finale and started talking about what we wanted for dinner when my phone started going crazy with text messages.

Somehow, we had gotten the realm first. Over two hours after getting the 'Working as a Team' achievement, we were awarded Realm First credit for it.

Another of our guild members had just hit honored, and since he owned a legendary weapon, it procced a number of guild achievements, (we guess) forcing the system to "re-check" what achievements we should have credit for, and "flushing out" the Realm First we'd earned.

So at 9pm last night, nearly fifteen hours later, we finally had reached our goal. Miraculously, still ahead of a number of other guilds that were very close to getting it themselves.

Ultimately, the achievement itself means very little. After all, it's just a digital piece of if data on a server somewhere. But we set out as a team to accomplish something, and despite a very nervewracking race to the finish line, we prevailed in the end. And we had a lot of fun in the process. And that, my friends, has incredible value all its own.