Meet Venwe of Spinebreaker, Arena Grand Master – nay, not of the Ring of Trials or The Circle of Blood or even the Ruins of Lordaeron. No, Venwe is the master of an arena you may not even have heard of: Stranglethorn Vale's Gurubashi Arena, home of the Gurubashi Arena Booty Run.
Every three hours in the heart of the Stranglethorn jungle, Short John Mithril bellows out the call to arms: "Arrr, Me Hearties! I be havin' some extra Treasure that I be givin' away at the Gurubashi Arena! All ye need do to collect it is open the chest I leave on the arena floor!" His summons sets off a true PvP free-for-all – players of both factions, including your own – in a race to recover and open the pirate's chest dropped at the center of the arena. Players like Venwe scrabble against friend and foe for bragging rights and a shot at the chest's booty -- except unlike Venwe, most players haven't succeeded more than 700 times.
A lot of players are completely unfamiliar with this event. What's the objective? And more to the point -- what's the attraction for you, personally?
It is kind of off the beaten path of things players do, and I too was once completely unaware of it. For players unfamiliar, in Stranglethorn Vale (see: Gankville) there is a lasting arena from the days when the area was fully controlled by the Gurubashi Empire of the trolls. When I say "arena," I don't mean like today's 2v2-, 3v3- or 5v5-ranked PvP arenas, but a free-standing arena zone. Players who step onto the arena floor are immediately flagged for PvP against anyone and everyone -- meaning even if they're of the same faction with you, unless you're grouped with them, they're more than willing to accept your Aimed Shot.
Standing in the bleachers of this arena is a named goblin mob (and a good friend of mine). Once every three hours (12 a.m., 3 a.m., 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 p.m. ...) server time, this goblin will make a zone-wide yell that it's time for him and his pirate buddies to have some entertainment. He'll then walk (painfully slow it seems... I'm talking escort quest-slow) around and down the stairs onto the arena floor. When he gets to the center, a chest will spawn. Then it's a game of last man standing to see who gets the chest first.
Within the chest, you'll find some pots and a little cash, possibly some arena braces. Nothing to write home about. However, you'll also find a BoP Arena Master trinket. Get 12 of those and you can get an Grand Arena Master trinket -- essentially a free bit of a bubble, but not as powerful as some others found in game.
What makes it fun is really just the random world PvP you can encounter. I discovered the place and the chest completely by accident. I am a very slow-leveling casual player and as such, when leveling my character, it would seem that once every 15 to 20 levels, I'd just get extremely bored and start running to places I had no business being just to see what was there. So after numerous corpse hops, I landed in the one spot that I wasn't aggroing anything: Gurubashi Arena. And there, sitting in the middle of the floor, was a chest. That first chest, I grabbed and got (what at that level was amazing stuff) "fo' free" and was very curious has to where I was and what had just happened. A little searching on WoWWiki and I found out what I needed to know.
Spinebreaker's a PvP realm. Does that put a different spin on things, since the event is already PvP-oriented?
Yes and no. The main difference is, unlike on PvE servers where players can wait for the chest to spawn then jump on the floor and begin the fight, you're already flagged for PvP in the arena bleachers. What this means is a fight for a chest can start anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes before it'll ever spawn. Usually stealther classes will sneak in and start popping off players as they come in for the extra HKs.
With me, when I really started heavy Gurubashing (made that up; spread it around, make it famous), I was around 48th level. I already had my Grand Arena Master trinket, but at this point I was actively playing almost solely for the purpose of the chest run. This was pre-BC, and a lot of 60s would come in and enjoy some PvP. You'd see entire guilds that were about to run ZG come in and PvP sometimes if they were waiting for last-minute players or such. I had to learn how to PvP hard and fast with a huge disadvantage. But I love it. World PvP is really where I get my kicks. All that time being ~10 levels lower than 20 taught me to not care if I got killed, just to have fun and not give up. It's only a game anyways, and having fun is what it's all about.
In the more hardcore PvP world of battlegrounds and ranked arenas I hear people laughing or calling other people out so often on their gear or spec and saying they can't play. I've not once heard another Hordie trying for the chest say such to me. People who do the random things like this or the Fishing Tournament, whose winnings don't really make you "more leet" or "more epic," are usually played by players like me, who don't care about such perceived notions. We're just having fun.
You're also an engineering veteran. Give us your State of the Union: Engineering.
I am very much an Engineer. When people ask me what I play I reply a "Level 70 Engineer." I actually refused to level my Engineering all the way to 375 yet because the only thing I wanted from it was my gun and I wanted to make another engineer rich, so I bought it from him. It made me happy. We engineers don't get to sell much, so it's nice to know we can do things like that. Engineering is a very stressful profession but rewarding to the right people.
If you became an engineer either after or in the lead-up to Burning Crusade just for the mount, you are not an engineer. You're not even an engineer's sidekick mechanic buddy who didn't get as good grades in tech school. You're the retarded cousin of an Engineer who accidentally stole his car. I hate you with a passion usually reserved for nerd-rage lore rants on Orc Warlocks still being in the horde and Blood Elves. I hate you like the Westboro Baptist Church hates everything.
We've heard you and your guild have developed a certain notoriety for a certain battlecry in battlegrounds. What gives?
Well, as a legal note before I go furthur, if you were any part of the creative team behind Star Trek 2, stop reading now. Okay, now that we won't get sued, I'll continue. Back in my Thunderlord days before friends somehow convinced me that transferring to a server that crashes daily was a good idea, I was in a very small leveling/casual guild with some players I had leveled alongside of. We were joking one day after reading one of the raiding guilds on the server's "rules for applicants" and seeing its extreme insanity, that we should have rules. We came up with just two. Every member must make the "Khan Macro," a macro that yells "KHAAAN" three times over. The second rule was to overabuse it. We've been overabusing the heck out of it on Spinebreaker and in our battle realm, so much so that we've noted a few others picking up on it. The best, however, has to be when a player from a different realm named "'Khaan" asked what I wanted when I yelled. Fun fact, though: Cussing in a battleground may not get you reports, but "Khanning" will. That was a funny day.
We hear you're also quite the explorer. What notable explorations and cross-faction instances have you dipped into?
As I stated earlier, I had a leveling habit of getting bored and going around to finding places. I did a lot of swimming around entire continents and running from skull-level mobs. Some of the most notable places I found that I have visited since include the abandoned Orc farm that is on the southwestern tip of Kalimdor underneath Silithus. Swim from the turtle-infested beach below Tanaris and you'll get there ... eventually. I really enjoy the not-quite-as-far-out but not-quite-visited (especially by Horde) helicopter landing pad island. The first time we found it, we were convinced it was for rock concerts – and a few Undead later, it was! Being an Engineer, I use my Deepdive Helmet and hang out under the surf in Aquaman's territory a lot. I love some of the designer-left things that aren't often noted, such as a certain designer's name (who I won't say in case he didn't want to get in trouble) written with kelp on the ocean floor.
When it comes to instances, the only real cross-faction ones are of course Orgrimmar's Ragefire Chasm and Stormwind City's The Stockade. I exclusively grind wool cloth for the Auction House from The Stockade. I cleared my way through there before I was 40. It's also extremely fun to bounce in and out of the instances before the billion Allies who followed me through town can kill me each time. For a time, I also had the Sewer Beast from Stormwind's canals trained and in the stable just because I could. I took him for a few strolls in Deeprun Tram to see what kind of looks I'd get.
Any other WoW fascinations of note?
My current goal is to see how few 70s it will take to come out of the train and blast down the Gnome boss. If it was more lore-oriented, I'm sure I could one-shot the weakling, but Blizz had to buff him to be fair, which I'll understand ... for now. I'm also attempting to take a "tourist shot" pic of my character in front of every single statue in game. I've gotten almost all the ones in Azeroth (short of a couple in-instance ones but I know what they are) and about to start in Outland.
What keeps you busy IRL? Work, family, other games, other hobbies ...?
I stay extremely busy in life. I'm a single father of an infant daughter, work full time at the local Harley-Davidson dealership as a graphic designer and marketing consultant, own my own business that promotes regional musicians (it used to be the name of my guild on Thunderlord, but apparently <HooperBandP Dot Com> was too much advertising and they made me change it), am an officer in the local H.O.G. chapter, and volunteer with our local Labor Day Committee. I've got a tight schedule, but I make sure there is always time for my games, which other than WoW include my group of friends known as the Quilt City O.G.R.E.s, our local town's chapter of the Organization of Gamers & Roleplaying Enthusiasts (see free drunken antics-youtube.com/quiltcityogres) who play Dungeons & Dragons et. al.
It may seem like a lot, but that's not even everything and I'm decently good at scheduling, so I do have more free time than the above wall of text might note. Which could explain my odd playing habits.