It’s been a long time since any of my characters could truly be considered pioneers. It’s been at least three years, maybe more, since I broke ground on a new server with nothing but the worn-out cape on my level 1 character’s back. In this era of paid server/account transfers, faction changes, and bind on account items, I figured I never would again.

These days, any alt I create has instant access to a nearly limitless (well…for level 10 anyway) supply of gold, heirlooms, and crafted gear from my (and others’) 80s – to say nothing of a well-stocked guild bank, free boosting runs through SM, and a constant stream of bored 80s offering other sorts of help for the sake of an hour well-wasted.

And if I want a new server? Just hand over my credit card number to Blizzard for the three hundred and fiftieth time, pop one of my 80s, complete with an extra set of gold, heirlooms, and crafting mats, over onto the new server and maintain all of the non-guild based benefits listed above.

Not exactly colonization in the historical sense of hard work, little support, and harsh winters, now is it?

Then along came Merekage de Zangar, and my brilliant plan to practice my French. As I’ve mentioned before, I have an abundance of alts. No problem, thinks I. Once the trial-account restrictions are lifted, I can take one or two of my under-played alts and transfer them over and start building me a self-sustaining community of characters, craft up some gear, maybe transfer some heirlooms with them so I can level faster.

This was my brilliant master plan, right up until my warrior hit level 8 or so and suddenly didn’t have the money required to purchase both Parry and Thunder Clap. All right, I say. Let’s do it to it. Time to account-transfer some alts.

Yeah. About that.

The reason I needed a second account to play on the French server, is because the French server is an EU server, and so I needed an EU account to play on it. My main account is a US account.

For similar reasons, when I load up my main account and go to the server transfer page…Merekage de Zangar is nowhere on the list. And the US doesn’t recognize my EU account.

So I realize, trés tardivement, that my one account is not aware of the other’s existence, and I cannot transfer any characters from one to the other.

An icy wind blew down across the back of my little warrior’s neck as she stared at that training interface and knew she would actually have to choose between Parry and Thunderclap. I glanced quickly at my equipment – no piece of it was actually worth enough copper to make up the difference and get me both. I was broke. I was poor. I still needed to buy professions, and weapon skills. I could skip fishing and cooking, but I had to have first aid. That was like…an extra few silver right there and I just didn’t have the budget for it.

And oh my God, weapon skills. They’re like…ten silver a piece, and I needed a bajillion of them. Ten silver. God, it was suddenly the equivalent of a thousand gold. I literally had only a few coppers to my name. I’d never get 10 silver, let alone multiple iterations of it.

Oh my God, said my brain. Oh my God. I’m completely alone. No support system. No easy gold. No juggling of heirlooms and BoA inscriptions and free enchants. No high-level crafters. No hoards of low-level mats.

I had nothing. I had no one.

I was alone on a foreign server, in a different language, with no friends, alts, or high-level characters.

I stiffened my upper lip, drew myself up, and purchased Parry.

First things first, I told myself, professions. I don’t have access to free gear anymore, but I can’t really afford a crafting profession, and it’ll level slowly without supplementary mats – it wouldn’t keep up with my levels anyway. My little gnome will have to be the ground breaker. She’s going to have to make the money I need to start building a self-sustaining alt-community.

She’ll have to be a gatherer.

I spend fifteen minutes farming evil flowers for their petals and vines, selling enough of them to be able to purchase mining and skinning. Then I buckle down and start questing in earnest, hoping that by level 8 I would be able to afford all my level 8 skills, plus the abandoned Thunderclap. I leave no mine unmined, no corpse unskinned. Once I’ve got a stack of copper, I make my way to the Exodar.

If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s a fucked economy. My first stack of copper sells for 5g. Half a stack of light leather goes for 2. I’m up to 7g in my pocket, which is more than enough to live off of until level 60, given questing income, and not even taking into account future auctions. But only for this one character. Alts, I know, are expensive, and sooner or later I’m going to need to make a crafter. I’m going to need a lot of money to support multiple alts and their professions.

I run back to Guet de Brume-Azur and rather smugly purchase my thunder-clap. “Hi,” I tell my trainer, “I’m totally rich now.”

7g’s not exactly a windfall compared to the amounts I’m used to these days, but on this server it was like suddenly winning the lottery. I didn’t have to worry about not being able to afford weapon skills or class abilities. I would be able to afford my repairs. I wouldn’t have to walk from one map to the other because I just don’t have enough for the flight (this has happened to me…more than once). It was a huge stress-relief.

In the end, given that I made 7g on my first trip to the AH and I think I was up to 20 or so when I finally logged, I don’t expect it to be super-difficult to survive, at least with this one character. But there’s something incredibly exciting, and immensely gratifying, in knowing that she is the first and the only. That she is setting the foundation for future alts. That some pieces of this game are going to be hard again, and whatever I accomplish, I do it through my own sweat, blood and tears (figuratively speaking).

I know how hard and expensive it gets to maintain a cadre of alts. It’s primarily the reason I’ve never had more than a couple thousand G to my name (split between many characters). Professions, dual-specs, mounts (I’m not even talking epic flying here), levelling, etc., takes up a lot of resources.

I am honestly, legitimately excited about the prospect of doing it all over again, and doing it from scratch. For once I don’t need to worry about the inevitable giving in to temptation and just adding an alt into the guild and sending them a bunch of money – it’s not even an option. Even joining a different guild is more or less out, since I don’t speak the native tongue of the server.

I am well and truly on my own, and it’s unexpectedly invigorating.