My original aim was to have one of every class at max level, an aim that I'm still working on, but have ended up with more than one of some classes (which I shall explain another time!)
I didn't always have a small army of alts mind. In fact, it took me long enough to get my first character to max level that a new expansion came out!
It all started back in 2008, some friends where I worked were playing so I decide to give World of Warcraft another try (having tried it a year or so previously and not liked it at all, with a human priest).
So I created an account and made a character. Ideally I wanted to create an elf (and the only ones that looked how I wanted were Blood Elves) but my friend was playing Alliance so I made another human priest. Progressed slowly through the start area and got as far as Goldshire.
The server I started on was Steamwheedle Cartel, a role-playing server. It bears saying that I had no idea what role-playing meant or how to do it, I only started on that server because that is where my friend played.
Goldshire was no where near as bad as I later found it could be (and no where near as bad as Argent Dawn EU or Moonguard US are!)
However while levelling around here I encountered more players than I had seen previously. I had no idea there were so many things people could be! And it was here I first encountered Night Elves! These fantastic creatures could ride tigers!
It was then I saw a Night Elf hunter, not only was she riding a tiger, she had one for a pet!
Well, that was it, I had to make a new character because I wanted to ride a tiger and have one as a pet!
And so, Aurorasofia the Night Elf hunter was born.
However, I still basically had no idea what I was doing, so spent ages levelling her through the start area (back when the mobs were still red names!).
Had a blast bumbling along on her through the levels, with my good friend Varethius despairing of me because I was taking ages to level. I didn't care though, I was having a great time, and if I couldn't quite do a quest because it was too hard for me, well that was fine, I would just ride around uncovering the map and exploring.
He tried to get me to do some dungeons, but after one attempt where I died over and over I refused to do any more (and this lasted long into Wrath!)
Despite this I was still unsure exactly what a dungeon was, and still managed to get myself killed by accidentally wandering into them. "Ooh a swirly portal!" I would think as I went to explore and experience yet another inevitable death.
This coupled with my complete lack of understanding about how gearing worked meant a slower levelling experience. A while back I managed to find a website that for some reason had the armoury of my hunter saved back when she was level 51. At the time she was battling foes wearing a mixture of cloth, leather and mail, some white quality (bigger armour number means I live longer!), and spirit gear (for the mana regen of course!)
Here she is pictured with her trusty Warpstalker (that I still have) that I had no idea at the time was a Tenacity pet! My understanding of the different types of pet was as noobish as the rest of my understanding at the time.
Every now and again my friend would check what I was wearing and give me an overhaul, however, when he explained that green gear was better than white, and blue better than green, I assumed he meant the colour of the armour itself, so I was rather bemused when he told me my gear was no good. What did he mean by this? I'd worked hard to make sure it was all the same colour!
I didn't care how long it was taking me, I was enjoying myself! So I carried bumbling along, and then Blizzard announced their next expansion, Wrath of the Lich King!
We were excited and I vowed to reach level 70 before it came out! (Quite a feat as I believe I was still level 50 odd at the time, and levelling was no where near as fast as it is now).
Fast forward to three weeks before the release and I still wasn't level 70. I think I'd reach roughly level 60, and remember distinctly hating levelling in Outland, so found any excuse to be back on Azeroth when I could.
I also discovered add-ons! How great were these? Queue some of the most horrific UI set-ups I've ever known.
I can't remember all of it now, but I remember running around various parts of Azeroth whenever we heard that a new invasion was happening, collecting the scourgestones! I ended up collecting enough to get my first full set of epics, (and boy do I wish I'd kept these now that transmog is in the game!)
I also remember spending a large amount of time avoiding cities as I didn't particularly want to be a zombie, but then I can also remember standing with my friend (a paladin) and a few people he knew as they were healing people? I could be mis-remembering this and maybe we were just standing by one of the NPC healers, I confess, I'm not 100% sure.
All this combined meant that I still wasn't level 70 and the release date of WotLK was drawing ever nearer.
I booked some time off work and settled down to level, and managed to get to the end level, two days before the release of Wrath!
However, I still had no idea how to play properly, and could still be found meleeing things on occasion if the mobs got too close because "it was easier". Also I had just gotten Misdirection at level 70, and had no opportunity to use it, so it was a fairly long time until I learned the proper use of it.
I remember being dragged through a run of Karazhan shortly after hitting 70 with my friend Varethius and his then guild the Furlocks, the first (and last time for a long time) that I did a raid! I had no idea what was going on and was told to just follow and stay close, and make sure my pet didn't attack things.
I wasn't even aware at the time that it was a raid, I just assumed it was a long dungeon - I had no way of knowing it was any different thanks to my time avoiding all things instanced!
My levelling to 80 went smoothly enough, so smooth in fact that I can't remember most of it. I spent the majority of my time levelling unguilded, as I saw no point in them and was quite happy going about by myself. I'd briefly run my own guild with a few people from work (Twilight Legion) and joined a couple here and there, but none kept my interest for long.
Not long after hitting 80 I was wandering around Dalaran, trying to decide which achievement I wanted to go for next, (seriously, achievements are THE single best addition to the game!), when I noticed an advert in trade from someone looking for raiders for their guild.
Ordinarily I wouldn't have paid any attention but the name of the guild grabbed my attention. it was The Wanderers. I loved it straight away as I spent a large part of my time wandering around exploring!
I whispered the person and he asked me what raiding experience I had. I said I hadn't been 80 very long, but I had done something called Karazhan if that was a raid? I wonder if Kalevipoeg still actually remembers that conversation? ^^
And thus started my time as a social member of The Wanderers! A guild I was to spend many happy years in until very recently.
I still avoided raiding like the plague, despite helping the team on a few occasions through their Naxxramas and Ulduar runs, my raid awareness was 0 and my skills close behind so I kept to myself.
I started doing dungeons with some of the people in the guild, who taught me the different types of pet (after I tried a few dungeons with Blinkie the Warp Stalker and couldn't understand why my DPS was so much lower), and with the help of Allaria the hunter class leader, I slowly learned how to actually play my class. I also learned how to choose better gear as I went along properly!
Then came a social raid set up in the guild, for the non-raiders and people who had alts to take part in to Naxxramas. I signed up and checked all the tactics, and was incredibly nervous the entire way through.
It was a lot of fun, and I even got myself a new bow!
Now I've come full circle back to my first character, who now looks very different and has moved home and faction, and joined another guild.
Towards the end of Cataclysm I faction changed Aurorasofia to horde, I decided that I wanted one hunter on each faction, and wanted to experience the horde side of things properly. Still on Steamwheedle Cartel I joined The Drafia, a guild that I knew some people in as they had alts in The Wanderers.
Fast forward again to Mists and The Drafia decided to move server as SWC had become dead on horde side (and not much better on alliance!), so I decided to move a few characters with them. Draenor was chosen as the server and it is so much busier than SWC!
I had never played on a busy server before so I brought some more characters over and haven't looked back!
Plus, it finally means that Aurorasofia can be the character I always wanted her to be :)