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World of Warcraft’s Epic Firsts

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In World of Warcraft (Buy | Search), some say being the first means being the best. The first to reach the maximum level, the first to kill a certain boss -- every one of them matters. In a game that boasts more than 12 million players, being the very first person, group or guild to accomplish the game's major milestones is like being the first man on the moon. For the hardcore set, it's a pretty big deal.

Cataclysm Crushed: World's First 85

Warcraft's latest expansion, Cataclysm, exploded onto the scene on Dec. 7, shattering sales records -- and the game's world at the same time. As it happens, leveling from
80 to 85 turned out to be pretty easy, and a player known as Athene needed only six hours to rocket his paladin to the new max level. According to WoW Progress, a website that tracks in-game achievements, Athene managed the feat more than two hours faster than the second-place finisher, and a few hours before U.S. players even had access to Cataclysm.

Not So Fast: First to 70 and 80

Unlike Cataclysm, Warcraft's first two expansions each raised the level cap by
10, and players required more time to scale first to level 70 and then to 80. In 2007's The Burning Crusade, the European guild Millennium banded together to help one of its members, a gnome mage named Gawell, become the game's first 70 in 28 hours. A French warlock, Nymh, reached level 80 in a slightly brisker 27 hours after the release of 2008's Wrath of the Lich King. "In real life I'm 21 and currently employed," Nymh told MMO-Champion, a popular Warcraft blog, at the time. "I took a few days of vacation for the release of the expansion." So that's how it's done!

One Down, Dozens to Go: First Boss Kill

Molten Core, a fiery cave full of (wait for it) molten lava, presented players
with the hottest challenge around during the pre-expansion "vanilla" Warcraft. The North American guild Conquest earned the very first kill ever of a raid boss when they downed Lucifron, the first boss of Molten Core, in January 2005 -- and that happened back when raids required a whopping 40 players. Conquest went on to conquer more than half a dozen bosses in MC before anyone else, but a guild called Ascent pulled ahead to claim the first kill of the dungeon's final boss, Ragnaros, in April 2005.

The Burning Crusade: Nihilum on Parade

During Warcraft's first expansion, the European guild Nihilum tore through raids. The guild racked up 20 world firsts, including kills on the final bosses of all but one of the expansion's raids. Fabien "Boubouille" Bonte, the Frenchman behind MMO-Champion, one of the most popular Warcraft blogs around, says such accomplishments were
nothing to sneeze at. "World first used to be [so] important," he says, because "it took two months to take down a boss, and there wasn't any way to see what was past him."

Lich King Kablooey: Wrath of the World Firsts

World first kills got complicated in Warcraft's second expansion, when every
raid boasted a 10- and 25-person version on normal and heroic difficulties. That meant each boss could be killed "first" four different times. Paragon, a guild from Finland, earned the first 25-man heroic Lich King kill (phew), but the real poop had already hit the fan when Blizzard stripped the guild Ensidia of its world first for killing the Lich King
on 25-man normal mode. Apparently the players had exploited a faulty game mechanic during the fight, earning a 72-hour ban and a hefty dose of chagrin, as Paragon stepped in to earn that world first legitimately.

For Whom the Gong Tolls: Ahn'Qiraj Opens

On Jan. 3, 2006, Blizzard introduced a new world event to herald the coming of Ahn'Qiraj, a big bug-themed raid dungeon. Each server had to collect thousands of resources to unlock the gate and get into Ahn'Qiraj. After an orchestrated effort that took just shy of three weeks and required Alliance characters to funnel resources to the vastly outnumbered Horde players, the European server Medivh became the first to unlock the gates ... but the event was mired in controversy, and the actual opening of the gates crashed the game's server. Oops.

The First First, and Many More to Come

With Cataclysm now a few weeks old, hardcore players already are knocking
out the world firsts left and right. But what about that very first world first: the first player to reach level 60, some five years ago? That remains a mystery, in part because the achievements with which we can track these things didn't exist back then. For now, that firstest of firsts remains lost to the annals of time ... or at least hidden away
inside Blizzard's world-controlling supercomputer.

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